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Athletics walk off victorious after hard-fought pitcher’s duel in Game 2 of ALDS

Oct 6, 2013, 12:40 AM EDT

Division Series - Detroit Tigers v Oakland Athletics - Game Two Getty Images

The Tigers and Athletics played what could very well end up being the best game of the entire post-season tonight as starters Justin Verlander and Sonny Gray took the hill in opposition. The two right-handers traded zeroes through seven innings, each allowing just four hits, each walking two or fewer, each striking out at least nine. As Katie Sharp noted on Twitter, tonight was the first game in post-season history in which both pitchers shut out their opponents and struck out at least nine.

Gray was able to pitch through the eighth inning, escaping a sticky situation with the speedy Don Kelly on second base with one out. The 23-year-old relied on his curve to strike out Austin Jackson for the fourth time in as many at-bats, then got Torii Hunter to pop out. From there, it was a battle of the bullpens.

Verlander made it through seven, throwing 117 pitches in total, striking out 11 while walking just one. He was able to ramp it up to 98 MPH in his final inning, adding some extra velocity when he needed it most. On any other night, he would have walked away with a W, but Gray was his equal.

After Drew Smyly and Al Alburquerque teamed up for a scoreless eighth, Tigers manager Jim Leyland left Alburquerque in for the bottom of the ninth. Yoenis Cespedes led off with a single to left field, past a rangeless Miguel Cabrera. Seth Smith followed up with a single to right field, allowing Cespedes to advance to third base with no outs. Leyland called for Josh Reddick to be intentionally walked, setting up a force at every base, then replaced Alburquerque with Rick Porcello — a move that will likely be second-guessed as closer Joaquin Benoit, ostensibly the team’s best reliever, remained in the bullpen waiting for a save situation. Catcher Stephen Vogt, 0-for-3 with three strikeouts to that point, laced a 93 MPH fastball from Porcello into left field, scoring Cespedes for a walk-off single.

With the 1-0 victory, the Athletics tie the ALDS at 1-1 and will now head to Detroit for two games. Athletics starter Jarrod Parker will oppose Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez on Monday.

  1. daveitsgood - Oct 6, 2013 at 12:44 AM

    To balance out the media gushing about verlander and scherzer and all the strike outs, the A’s haven’t allowed the tigers to score in 17 innings.

    • NatsLady - Oct 6, 2013 at 12:50 AM

      How much did Detroit score against the Marlins? Didn’t they get no-hit in the last game of the regular season? And they scored 1 run and 2 runs in the previous two games… Maybe it’s not so easy to turn the faucet back on.

      • Old Gator - Oct 6, 2013 at 1:05 PM

        It might not be easy, but – without meaning to deprecate what Henderson Alvarez accomplished with his no-no – they didn’t have many of their key players in the lineup on that fateful terminal Sunday. Miggy didn’t play and the Baby Blimp got one at bat.

  2. butchhuskey - Oct 6, 2013 at 12:45 AM

    Phenomenal pitcher’s duel of a game. The A’s wasted some huge opportunities and fouled off pitches that were pretty hittable. It was a night of frustration, and seemed like it came down to career minor leaguer Vogt every time. So of course Vogt would get the final chance to drive in the winning run and finally came through.

    That’s why I love baseball.

    • historiophiliac - Oct 6, 2013 at 12:51 AM

      Man, that was great. I was all over the place the last two innings. I love it when games are like that. *That* is what playoff games should be like. Well done, A’s.

  3. jlovenotjlo - Oct 6, 2013 at 12:54 AM

    Awesome game. Baseball rules.

    All three of Oakland’s 9th inning hits were the result of defensive positioning with a little bit of Cabrera’s and Fielder’s lack of range thrown in to the mix. The single down the 3rd base line past Cabrera could have easily been a groundout if Cabrera wasn’t playing down the line. Same with the single down the 1st base line, with Fielder playing right on the lines. And, of course, that walk off line drive single would have likely been an easy out if the infield wasn’t in.

    I just found it interesting, its not like anyone did anything wrong. Its just how those seemingly small positioning differences resulted in a game-changing, and potentially series and season-changing, inning.

    • captn58crunch - Oct 6, 2013 at 12:07 PM

      Awesome post, jloven…

      When you have defensive liabilities like Cabrera and Fielder out there in late innings, they are bound to get taken advantage of. What is Fielder’s excuse for being some 50+ lbs o/w? The A’s are thanking him for those 50 extra lbs.

      I know these two need to be in the lineup, but between the two, Fielder should be DH.

      I have tremendous respect for the Tigers, but not sure they have the D and the bullpen to win it all.

      • Old Gator - Oct 6, 2013 at 1:11 PM

        Like any substantial mass, Fielder bends spacetime towards himself. He’s a gravitational lens. He stands at the vortex of a gravitational infundibulum that compensates somewhat for his lack of range as baseballs are attracted to him. Sliders tend to break inside for the same reason.

  4. slugdub - Oct 6, 2013 at 1:10 AM

    23 yr old rookie > Veteran Cy Young winner. OAKTOWN!!!

    • historiophiliac - Oct 6, 2013 at 1:21 AM

      Um, he wasn’t better, doof. Look at the stats and don’t be dumb.

      • jlovenotjlo - Oct 6, 2013 at 1:36 AM

        Nah, Gray went 8 and Verlander went 7. Verlander going *only* 7 opened the door just enough for the bullpen to lose the game.

        Tonight, Gray > Verlander

        … but not by much :)

      • historiophiliac - Oct 6, 2013 at 1:42 AM

        Um, the bullpen losing the game does not make Gray better than Verlander. Have a nice night.

      • jlovenotjlo - Oct 6, 2013 at 1:59 AM

        You’re right. I’d much prefer a pitcher throw 7 scoreless innings instead of 8 scoreless innings. I would take that 7 every time, instead of that lousy extra inning of scoreless work. I don’t want that, you don’t want that, nobody wants that.

        In fact, if anyone even suggested to me that a pitcher throwing 8 scoreless innings is worse than a pitcher throwing 7 scoreless innings, I would get upset and tell people to not be dumb. That’s how strongly I feel about this.

      • historiophiliac - Oct 6, 2013 at 11:54 AM

        There is no way that V pitching an 8th inning would’ve made the 9th come out differently. And just because Gray went one more inning does not make him better. While V was in, he had one less walk and two more SO — so I don’t know how that makes Gray the better pitcher. It took him an extra inning to do less. I’m not even arguing that V was better. But to say Gray was better is dumb. It was a good match up. You probably also think pitcher wins indicate superiority.

      • scatterbrian - Oct 6, 2013 at 2:08 PM

        @historio

        The three extra outs Gray recorded are more important than how either pitcher got their outs. Bottom line is Gray’s performance last night helped his team more than Verlander’s did, meaning Gray was better than Verlander last night.

      • historiophiliac - Oct 6, 2013 at 3:39 PM

        Well, first of all, you should establish why some outs are more important than others, if you want to sell that argument. If you mean instead that he had more of them, you have a point, but to say that the last three were somehow more important than ones that came before is not logical. All outs are valuable. Secondly, the argument you are making — or should be — (that he got three more outs than V) is that Gray was the more valuable pitcher — not the better one. It’s quantitative v. qualitative, which is different. That is the subtle difference between best player and most valuable. If you want to say that Gray was the more valuable pitcher, that would be okay. But, his performance was not better in quality.

        BTW, people on here are coming off as poor sports. Have a nice day.

      • slugdub - Oct 6, 2013 at 5:47 PM

        The poor sport is you histophallic. Flip over to espn if you want to drool over Verlander and quit downplaying an A’s win. Have a nice day ya clown.

      • historiophiliac - Oct 6, 2013 at 5:58 PM

        I’m not drooling. Go through and find a single comment I made insulting any A’s player. I never started up about how V was better — the person starting that bullshit was you. I did not downplay your win or say that Gray was lousy. In fact, I left several comments about how great the game was and congratulating the A’s. I was only arguing with the false contention that Gray was better than V. That’s just dumb. Both pitchers were awesome — and it’s petty that you want to belittle V like that. And, try to find a gloating comment from me about your players from the previous game. You won’t find any — because I am not a poor sport and don’t have to insult the other team’s players to be happy for how my team performed. It was a good loss and I was impressed by the A’s (if not their fans).

        PS I note that you don’t have a response to my actual argument there.

    • clydeserra - Oct 6, 2013 at 10:33 PM

      As an A’s partisan, I think it was quite close. Verlander did walk one less, and stike out 2 more, wihch is better. From watching in the stands, it looked like the A’s hit the ball harder. And verlander did use more pitches to pitch less innings, so I don’t know, it was close.

      WHich is why people took offense to you saying “you doof, look at the stats.” Its not like someone was saying Alex Cobb was better than Verlander, its not a doofy thing to say. Its too close to call.

      • clydeserra - Oct 7, 2013 at 6:58 AM

        And please note that fangraphs has Verlander’s WPA at .411 and Gray’s at .507 FWIW.

        So rather than being “dumb” when looking at the statistics, it looks like calling Gray better than Verlanader is a completely defensible position based on numbers.

        http://www.fangraphs.com/wins.aspx?date=2013-10-05&team=Athletics&dh=0&season=2013

  5. aidanscawley - Oct 6, 2013 at 2:47 AM

    I can at least understand why Leyland thought it was a good idea to leave Porcello in. I have absolutely no clue though, why he sees Drew Smyly as a LOOGY. Part of Smyly’s appeal in the bullpen is that he continues to get outs for as long as you’ll let him. I feel comfortable giving Smyly 4 innings, but Leyland has only been giving him 2/3rds lately. Shucks. Ain’t baseball fun though?

  6. Old Gator - Oct 6, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    Wonder where APBA Guy is this morning. Sleeping off a bender?

    • daveitsgood - Oct 6, 2013 at 2:24 PM

      He’s probably catching the flight to Detroit to be able to provide us with the in game insight for Monday’s game that we all have come to love. I might have to leave work early on Monday to head home to watch the game. I hope my boss doesn’t mind me leaving around 9 am.

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