Verlander leads Tigers to win over A's
BY NOAH TRISTER Associated Press
Sunday, October 07, 2012
10/07/12 at 5:58 AM
DETROIT - Justin Verlander allowed a home run to the first batter of the game - and quickly shrugged it off.
This hard-throwing ace doesn't usually hit his stride until a bit later.
Verlander shut down Oakland after that early slip, and Alex Avila homered in the fifth inning to lift the Detroit Tigers over the Athletics 3-1 Saturday night in the opener of their best-of-five AL playoff.
Verlander allowed three hits in seven innings and matched his career postseason high with 11 strikeouts. As usual, he seemed stronger in the later innings, striking out the side in the sixth and the first two hitters of the seventh. That made up for Coco Crisp's leadoff homer that quieted the Comerica Park crowd just one batter into the game.
"Early on, didn't have great control of any of my pitches," Verlander said. "But I was able to get myself out of jams that I created."
Joaquin Benoit pitched the eighth and Jose Valverde struck out two in a perfect ninth for the save.
Oakland's Jarrod Parker allowed two earned runs in 6 1/3 innings and took the loss.
Game 2 is Sunday, with Doug Fister taking the mound for Detroit and left-hander Tommy Milone for Oakland.
It was only the second victory for Detroit in its last seven postseason series openers. The Tigers lost Game 1 to the Yankees in the division series last year before winning in five. Detroit then lost the opener of the AL championship series to Texas.
After winning their final six games to take the AL West in shocking fashion, the A's made their presence felt right away in Detroit. The home crowd greeted Verlander with a roar and a sea of twirling white towels when he popped out of the dugout and headed to the mound to start the game, but Crisp was unfazed. He pulled Verlander's two-strike fastball just inside the pole in right field to put Oakland on top.
The AL Central-champion Tigers tied it immediately. Austin Jackson's hard-hit ball deflected off diving shortstop Stephen Drew and into short left field.
The Detroit leadoff man ended up with a double and went to third when Quintin Berry slapped a single to third off Josh Donaldson, who also could only get a piece of the ball while diving for it.
Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, who went hitless, grounded into a double play, but Jackson came home to make it 1-all.
Drew finally made a diving play in the second, sprawling to his right on Delmon Young's grounder and then throwing to first for the out. At the plate, the A's made Verlander work, forcing him to throw 61 pitches in the first three innings.
National League: St. Louis 6, Atlanta 3
American League: Baltimore 5, Texas 1
(Best-of-5; x-if necessary)
Detroit 1, Oakland 0
Saturday: Detroit 3, Oakland 1
Sunday: Oakland (Milone 13-10) at Detroit (Fister 10-10), 11:07 a.m. (MLB)
Tuesday: Detroit (Sanchez 4-6) at Oakland, 8:07 p.m. (TBS)
x-Wednesday: Detroit (Scherzer 16-7) at Oakland, TBD (TBS or MLB)
x-Thursday: Detroit at Oakland, TBD (TBS)
New York vs. Baltimore
Sunday: New York (Sabathia 15-6) at Baltimore, 5:15 p.m. (TBS)
Monday: New York at Baltimore, 7:07 p.m. (TBS)
Wednesday: Baltimore at New York, TBD (TBS or MLB)
x-Thursday: Baltimore at New York, TBD (TBS)
x-Friday: Baltimore at New York, TBD (TBS)
Cincinnati vs. San Francisco
Saturday: Cincinnati at San Francisco
Sunday: Cincinnati (Arroyo 12-10) at San Francisco (Bumgarner 16-11), 8:37 p.m. (TBS)
Tuesday: San Francisco at Cincinnati (Latos 14-4), 4:37 p.m. (TBS)
x-Wednesday: San Francisco at Cincinnati (Bailey 13-10), TBD (TBS or MLB)
x-Thursday: San Francisco at Cincinnati, TBD (TBS)
Washington vs. St. Louis
Sunday: Washington (Gonzalez 21-8) at St. Louis (Wainwright 14-13), 2:07 p.m. (TBS)
Monday: Washington (Zimmermann 12-8) at St. Louis, 3:37 p.m. (TBS)
Wednesday: St. Louis at Washington, TBD (TBS or MLB)
x-Thursday: St. Louis at Washington, TBD (TBS)
x-Friday: St. Louis at Washington, TBD (TBS)
Detroit starting pitcher Justin Verlander allowed just three hits in seven innings as the Tigers opened their playoff series against the Oakland Athletics with a 3-1 win in Detroit on Saturday. CARLOS OSORIO/Associated Press