Oakland received a spark on the fourth pitch of the game, but they haven’t been able to do anything since.
Coco Crisp hit a pitch that was left up and inside down the right-field line for a home run, and Stephen Drew doubled in the third. However, despite running Justin Verlander’s pitch count up, Oakland has failed to score since. Jarrod Parker made a costly error in the third inning, which gave the Tigers the lead.
Quintin Berry hit a slow grounder down the right field line, and Parker fielded it and tried to flip it to first. However, there was no one there, and Omar Infante, who had doubled earlier in the inning, scurried home to give the Tigers the lead. Miguel Cabrera, who hit into a double play that brought home a run earlier in the game, walked, bringing up Prince Fielder.
Fielder hit a flare into shallow center field, and Drew, Crisp and Cliff Pennington raced to get the ball. Pennington made a great running catch, saving at least one run. He singled in the fifth inning on a two-strike pitch, but was stranded there thanks to a flyout, a clutch strikeout and a routine groundout. Drew made a great play to prevent a base hit, and Reddick laid out to catch a flare down the right field line. However, the A’s are still losing.
In the fifth inning, Parker made another mistake. He left a pitch high and down the middle, and it was easy for the left-handed Avila to get the barrel of the bat on the ball. He drove the fastball the opposite way, and it cleared the fence in left field. Parker has limped through this game, although his pitch count is down. He didn’t throw 100 pitches, so he will be fully rested to pitch a possible Game 5.
Pat Neshek stranded Alex Avila and Andy Dirks, by inducing weak contact on a fielders choice and using his sidearm delivery to make Austin Jackson chase a low, outside slider for strike three. Neshek probably won’t come in for the eighth, but it’s great that he came in and stranded the runners. His son, Gehrig, died suddenly and tragically Wednesday night, less than 24 hours after his birth.
Verlander’s pitch count is now at 121, as he managed to log seven innings, strike out 11 and dominate, especially in the later innings. Oakland was patient with him, but it didn’t matter. Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde will now be charged with the task of finishing off the A’s, which is tough. Both have been vulnerable to late-inning rallies lately.
Will Oakland be able to stage a rally and pry Game 1 away from the Tigers, who have turned to Benoit? Stay tuned to find out and to see more updates.