The Detroit Tigers pulled out a win in the opener of this best-of-five series thanks to a dominant performance from one of the game’s best pitchers.

The Oakland Athletics could be hard-pressed to even things up with another tough matchup against Doug Fister in store.

Fister takes the mound opposite Tommy Milone as Detroit and visiting Oakland square off Sunday in Game 2 of the AL division series.

Though the A’s struck first behind Coco Crisp’s leadoff homer, that proved to be all the offense they could muster against Justin Verlander in Saturday’s 3-1 loss. Alex Avila went 2 for 3 with a homer while the reigning league MVP and Cy Young Award winner matched his career postseason high with 11 strikeouts, shutting down an Oakland team that won its final six regular-season games.

“I think every postseason game has a feeling of a must-win game,” Verlander said. “Obviously especially the home ones you want to win, but we know 2 and 3, the first one’s a big one, especially in a short series… Hopefully we win (Sunday) and we just gotta win one in Oakland.”

The Tigers have to be feeling good about giving the ball to Fister, who’s gone 8-4 over 15 starts since the All-Star break while compiling a 2.67 ERA – the seventh-lowest mark in the majors over that stretch.

Catch the rest of the Tigers pregame story, here.

Copyright 2012 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.


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