It didn’t look good for the Tigers when A’s speedster Coco Crisp hit a leadoff home run in the top of the first inning of Saturday night’s ALDS Game 1 in Detroit. But that feeling changed pretty quickly.
Verlander settled in after Crisp’s shot to right field, yielding just two hits over the rest of his outing while fanning 11 total batters in an eventual 3-1 victory.
The right-hander was hitting 98 mph with his fastball in the seventh inning, even with temperatures hovering just above 40 degrees at Comerica Park.
According to ESPN’s Stats & Info, Verlander is the first American League pitcher to rack up 11 or more strikeouts over seven innings or fewer in a postseason game since Pedro Martinez in 1999. At one point, the Tigers’ ace punched out five Oakland hitters in a row.
Things should get a little easier for the A’s in Game 2 against Doug Fister, but it’s safe to say they have their backs against the wall in this five-game divisional series. With one more game to play in the Motor City.
After drubbing the Angels 10-0 on Wednesday, the Athletics stayed hot, scoring 21 runs to once again rout the Angels on Thursday afternoon. Edwin Jackson got the start, yielding two earned runs on three hits and three walks with seven strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings.
The offense started in the bottom of the third inning, when the A’s plated five runs. That featured a two-run double from Matt Chapman and a three-run home run from Stephen Piscotty. In the fourth, the A’s scored seven more on RBI singles from Jed Lowrie, Khris Davis, Matt Olson, and Stephen Piscotty, which were followed up with an RBI double from Ramon Laureano and an RBI single from Marcus Semien. In the sixth, the A’s bolstered their lead to 18-2 when Laureano hit a bases-loaded single, Semien hit a bases-clearing double, Josh Phegley hit an RBI single, and Franklin Barreto knocked in a run with a double play. The following inning, with position player Francisco Arcia pitching, Nick Martini hit a two-run homer and Chad Pinder made it back-to-back jacks with a solo shot of his own, pushing the score to 21-2.
Arcia hit a solo homer for the Angels in the top of the ninth to make it 21-3, then Kaleb Cowart popped out to end the game. It’s the sixth time a team has scored 20-plus runs this season and the first since the Mets won 24-4 over the Phillies on August 16. The other occurrences: Dodgers 21-5 over the Brewers on August 2, Nationals 25-4 over the Mets on July 31, Diamondbacks 20-5 over the Padres on July 7, and Phillies 20-1 over the Marlins on April 7.
Notables in the box score for the A’s: Martini had three hits and three runs scored, Piscotty had four RBI, Semien had three hits and five RBI, and Phegley had three hits with three runs scored.
With Thursday’s win, the A’s cut their deficit to 3.5 games behind the Astros in the AL West. They have a six-game lead over the Rays for the second Wild Card and trail the Yankees by two games for the first Wild Card. Nine games remain in the regular season for the A’s.