It didn't take long.

Manager Bob Melvin soon saw what his Oakland A's were up against.

Justin Verlander at his best.

"It's like a locomotive going at high speed," Melvin said. "When Verlander gets on a roll like he did, especially once he gets into his rhythm, you get into the middle innings and he's rolling along.

"It's tough to stop him."

The A's never did.

With a complete-game four-hitter in which he struck out 11, Verlander won the game Thursday night that sent the Tigers into their second consecutive American League Championship Series — against someone.

Either the Yankees or the Orioles. That will be determined Friday night.

What was determined once again in this victory is that any game Verlander starts is Advantage: Tigers.

Because he had to start this game, though, Verlander won't be available to pitch in the League Championship Series until Game 3 on Tuesday night.

That also would allow him to be the Game 7 starter if needed.

"We have faith in all of our guys, though," catcher Gerald Laird said.

Doug Fister probably will be the Game 1 starter of the ALCS on Saturday.

Despite facing Verlander, Melvin held out hope, of course, that Game 5 would go their way.

"We knew we were going up against a good pitcher," said Melvin, "but that didn't mean we didn't think we were going to win.