OAKLAND, Calif. -- Rookie right-hander Sonny Gray pitched eight shutout innings and catcher Stephen Vogt
hit a walk-off single with the bases loaded in the ninth inning as the Oakland A's beat the Detroit Tigers
1-0 on Saturday night in Game 2 of their American League Division Series at the O.co Coliseum.
The A's pulled even in the series, which moves to Detroit's Comerica Park for the next two games on Monday and Tuesday. Yoenis Cespedes
grounded a leadoff single to left in the ninth off right-hander Al Albuquerque and then moved to third when Seth Smith
roped a single to right past a diving Prince Fielder at first. Albuquerque intentionally walked Josh Reddick
, loading the bases, and Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello came in from the bullpen.
With the infield pulled in and the outfield playing shallow, Vogt lined a 1-1 fastball to left, bringing Cespedes home.
Gray allowed four hits while striking out a career-high tying nine as he was serenaded by chants of Son-ny! Son-ny! after nearly every inning he pitched. Gray issued just two walks.
Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander
blanked the A's for seven innings on four hits, striking out 11 and walking only one in a 117-pitch night.
A's closer Grant Balfour got the win, pitching a scoreless ninth.
The A's have blanked the Tigers for 17 consecutive innings in the series after giving up three run in the first inning of a 3-2 loss in Game 1.
The A's nearly broke through against Verlander in the seventh. Brandon Moss
led off with a four-pitch walk -- Verlander's only free pass of the night. Then with two out, Reddick lined a single to right and Moss raced to third, just beating Torii Hunter
's throw, as Reddick took second.
That brought Vogt to the plate and Verlander struck him out with a 98 mph fastball to end a 10-pitch battle that included seven foul balls. As Verlander walked off the mound, he pumped his fist and yelled as the A's deafening sellout crowd of 48,292 went quiet.
In the top of the eighth, Tigers left fielder Don Kelly led off with an infield single, lining a shot off Gray's glove. Jose Iglesias
moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt, but Gray struck out Austin Jackson and retired Hunter on a popup.
Pinch-hitter Alberto Callaspo ripped a leadoff double in the bottom of the eighth off Tigers left-hander Drew Smyly. After Coco Crisp popped out, Jed Lowrie walked and Albuquerque came on. He struck out Josh Donaldson and Moss then high-stepped off the mound and to the dugout.
Verlander retired the first 11 batters he faced, striking out five and allowing only one loud out, Eric Sogard's line drive that third baseman Miguel Cabrera snagged to end the third.
But Donaldson broke up his bid for a perfect game, grounding a 3-2 fastball to center field for a single with two out in the fourth. Verlander ended that threat with his third strikeout of the inning as Moss watched a 1-2 curveball catch the inside corner.
If he had any postseason nerves, Gray certainly didn't show them early. In the first three innings, he struck out five and allowed just two singles, one to Cabrera and the other to Kelly. Gray struck out the side in the third, fanning Jackson, Hunter and Cabrera in order.
Hunter, who was hit in the first inning of Game 1 by a Bartolo Colon fastball, took exception to Gray's high and tight fastball with a 1-0 count in the third. But A's manager Bob Melvin had a problem with home plate umpire CB Bucknor's strike zone after Smith struck out looking at a pitch that appeared to be low to end the second.
Six of Verlander's first seven strikeouts were on called third strikes.
The Tigers put some pressure on Gray in the fifth after Omar Infante led off with a four-pitch walk and moved to second on Kelly's hit-and-run groundout. Jose Iglesias moved Infante to third with an infield single. But after falling behind in the count 3-0 to Jackson, Gray struck him out with a 94 mph fastball and Vogt gunned down Iglesias at second on an attempted steal, ending the inning.
In the bottom of the inning, Cespedes dumped single to right and moved to second when Smith lined a single to right. Reddick tried to advance the runners with a bunt but lined out softly to Cabrera, Vogt struck out on a big curve and Sogard fanned on a 97 mph fastball.
NOTES: Melvin tweaked his starting lineup for Game 2. First baseman Daric Barton, who went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in Game 1, was out of the lineup. Moss, who started at designated hitter on Friday, moved to first base and Smith started at designated hitter. ... Tigers manager Jim Leyland made one change to his lineup for Game 2. Kelly started in left field, replacing struggling Andy Dirks, who went 0-for-3 with a strikeout in Game 1. Another option was to use Jhonny Peralta in left, but Leyland said he went with the better defender to play behind Verlander. ... Bob Welch, the 1990 AL Cy Young Award winner and a member of Oakland's 1989 World Series title team, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
- Sports & Recreation
- Detroit Tigers
- Justin Verlander
- Stephen Vogt
- Josh Reddick
- Brandon Moss
- Seth Smith
- Torii Hunter