What began as a pitchers’ duel ended in a wild, back-and-forth affair as the Tigers walked off in the bottom of the ninth to take a 2-0 lead in the best of five ALDS.
Tommy Milone and Doug Fister both churned out solid outings, but it was the respective bullpens that turned a low-scoring game into a 5-4 victory for Detroit.
The A’s got on the board first in the third inning on a Yoenis Cespedes RBI single that scored Cliff Pennington from second. They had a chance to add on when Brandon Moss singled, but Coco Crisp was gunned down at the plate on a great throw by Avasail Garcia.
Detroit responded in the bottom half of the third. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder both recorded one out hits, and Delmon Young got a fielders’ choice RBI to tie the game at 1-1.
It would remain that way until the seventh, when the A’s manufactured a run off of Fister. Seth Smith was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. George Kottaras sacrificed him over to second, and Cliff Pennington knocked him in with a single to center.
Sean Doolittle relieved Tommy Milone in the seventh, but gave up the lead in the process. Back-to-back singles with two outs sent Miguel Cabrera to the plate. Cabrera hit a line drive to center that Coco Crisp misjudged. It went right by him, scoring two runs and giving Detroit a 3-2 lead.
The seesaw battle continued as the A’s responded with two runs in the bottom of the eighth. Yoenis Cespedes singled to lead off the inning. Brandon Moss struck out, but Cespedes stole second and third with one out. That paid off, as he scored on a wild pitch by Joaquin Benoit.] Then, Josh Reddick gave Oakland the lead with a solo home run to right field.
But that’s where the celebrations would end for the A’s. In the eighth, Ryan Cook uncorked a wild pitch with runners at second and third. Don Kelly crossed the plate to tie things up a 4-4.
Grant Balfour, who had been so consistent late in the season, struggled in the ninth in a tied game. With one out, he allowed back-to-back singles to Omar Infante and Miguel Cabrera. Prince Fielder was intentionally walked, setting up a bases loaded, one-out situation. Kelly stepped up and hit a deep fly to right on the second pitch that he saw, good enough for a sac fly to win the game.
Detroit now leads the series 2-0 as they head to Oakland for Game 3 on Tuesday. The A’s have their backs against the wall now, as they need to sweep three games at home in order to advance.