The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-5 ALDS Friday night with a 3-2 win over the Oakland Athletics.
Hero: Though he was not perfect, it’s Max Scherzer. The Tigers spotted him three runs in the first inning and that’s all they’d need. Scherzer could well have been more efficient — needing 118 pitches to get through seven innings — and coughed up the two-run homer to Yoenis Cespedes to make Tigers fans sweat it out in the late innings. But overall, if you look at the most important person to the Tigers’ win, it’s Scherzer. He only allowed three hits in seven innings while striking out 11. His final line: 7 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 11 K. Against a good, playoff-caliber offense. That’s your Cy Young winner. That’s your hero.
Goat: While Bartolo Colon coughed up three runs in the first inning, he settled in after that. So I’m not saying him. Instead, I’m gonna go with a combination of Jed Lowrie and Josh Donaldson — the A’s two- and three-hole hitters. Leadoff man Coco Crisp got on base three times but only advanced to second base once (on a wild pitch). It’s time to get things done, second and third hitters. Coco did his job while Lowrie and Donaldson failed to do theirs. In all, the duo went 0-for-8 with three strikeouts.
Turning point: What a tough category for this game. The Tigers led 3-0 after the top of the first inning and the A’s were able to cut it to 3-2, but then never really flirted with tying the game. Had the A’s come back to win, this easily would’ve been the Cespedes homer, but they didn’t. Let’s go with Scherzer quieting the A’s after said homer. There were no outs in the seventh when it happened. It was a big opportunity for Oakland to get him out of the game and get into the Detroit bullpen. The crowd in Oakland was rocking. Instead, Scherzer needed 11 pitches to retire the next three hitters and send it to the eighth, quieting the rowdy A’s fans.
It was over when: One-run game with Joaquin Benoit needing to record a four-out save? C’mon. It was over when it was literally over. Out number 27, when Benoit struck out Josh Reddick.
Next: We’ll do it again tomorrow night. At 9:07 p.m. ET/6:07 Oakland time it’ll be Game 2, with Justin Verlander (13-12, 3.46 in regular season) getting the ball for the road Tigers and Sonny Gray (5-3, 2.67) on the hill for the home A’s. The A’s really, really need this one, otherwise they’re going to Detroit in need of two wins there before having to take down Scherzer at home in Game 5.