The leadoff men are the stars so far in Game 1.
Tigers ace Justin Verlander allowed a solo homer to Coco Crisp in the very top of the first inning, then issued a one-out walk to Yoenis Cespedes before escaping the frame with back-to-back strikeouts of Brandon Moss and Josh Reddick. Verlander is no stranger to high pitch counts, but he needed 26 tosses to get the first three outs of the evening.
In the bottom of the first, the Tigers’ Austin Jackson opened with a double off A’s starter Jarrod Parker then scored from third base when MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera hit into a double play following a Quintin Berry infield single.
Parker threw 17 pitches. The score is 1-1 as this ALDS opener moves to the second inning.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: