Oakland, CA – It’s been almost a year when these teams met in the American League Division Series. Fate has brought them back together to kickoff this year’s postseason. The only problem is, this time the outcome wasn’t any different.
The Detroit Tigers took game one of the series with a 3-2 win over the A’s. Ace Max Scherzer pitched a stellar game striking out a total of eleven batters. Only one player was successful in hitting off him and that was Yoenis Cespedes who produced the only runs for Oakland.
“Yeah, they had three pretty good pitchers and their go-to guys to finish out games at least with [Drew] Smyly and [Joaquin] Benoit,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin. “Would have been nice to get them going earlier in the game and try to get Scherzer’s pitch count up. Yet maybe not our best offensive night, but they pitched well too.”
The Tigers took an early lead, Austin Jackson leadoff the first frame with a double and Torii Hunter was hit by pitch that set up Miguel Cabrera’s bloop single up the middle scoring Jackson for their first run.
Prince Fielder followed by grounding into a double play that scored in Hunter and Alex Avila who got the base hit for the final run giving Detroit a 3-0 lead. Bartolo Colon rocky’s start in the first inning was crucial, especially hitting a batter and giving up three runs for the first time this season.
Colon settled down to retire the next five batters before Fielder knocked a ground single to left field. The A’s defense stepped up and kept Detroit from scoring any more runs. In fact, the biggest defensive play in the game came in the sixth.
Omar Infante hit a single to right-fielder Josh Reddick and Victor Martinez was waved in and headed to home plate. No one has been successful in out running Reddick’s arm thus far and Martinez had no chance tonight when he threw to catcher Stephen Vogt for the out. That was the only time Tigers came close to scoring again.
“We just have to forget about this as fast as we can,” Coco Crisp said. “That’s been working for us all year. It’s unfortunate, because we almost pulled it off, but we’ll let this go and start worrying about Mr. Verlander.”
The one person who shutdown Oakland’s offense was Scherzer. He scattered three hits over seven innings, giving up two runs, two walks, and a home run. Those two runs came from Cespedes who hit a triple in the second and blasted a two-run homer in the seventh.
“The first at-bat he caught too much over the plate and the third at-bat, he had a good battle,” Scherzer said in reference to Yoenis getting two big hits off him. “It got to a 2-2, and I didn’t know what pitch to go with, and I thought if I went with my fastball, I could make him go away. That pitch caught too much of the plate and he took it deep and that’s just something that happens. And it’s baseball. It’s pitching and you move on.”
Max relied on his fastball and change-up to stifle a powerful offense. Justin Verlander did the same thing last year to win game four of the ALDS. A good change-up is hard to beat and Scherzer fanned four in a row from the fourth through the fifth frames. The bullpen came in to pitch the final three outs to secure their victory.
“I thought I had a good change-up tonight,” he explained. “I thought that was the difference. I was able to keep them off balance, and it allowed me to pitch deep into the game.”
“We were able to jump on some of his mistakes the last time, and he didn’t make any mistakes this time,” Vogt said. “He was putting his fastball on the corners. He wasn’t missing over the middle of the plate. His fastball-changeup fastball is one of the best in baseball. Good pitching will always beat good hitting.