Tigers 3, Athletics 0 (box score)
It’s a relief to have game one go more or less according to plan for the Tigers. We count on Justin Verlander to simply rip through the opposition, but the team still has to convert on those opportunities before the wins get banked. Losing a Verlander start would be a huge missed opportunity.
For one batter on Saturday night, it seemed like the Oakland Athletics might be able to get to Verlander. Coco Crisp pulled a 1-2 pitch deep down the right field line for a leadoff home run. Fortunately Verlander would settle in nicely and limit Oakland to the single run.
The Athletics were able to work Verlander for a few walks and run up his pitch count in the early going, but he was able to find a groove – including striking out five in a row across the sixth and seventh innings – and will his way through seven innings on 121 pitches. His final line was excellent: 7 IP, 11 SO, 1 ER, 3 H, and 4 BB. It was exactly the type of effort you want and need from your staff ace.
Offensively the Tigers did just enough to get by. An Austin Jackson double and a Quintin Berry single in the first inning allowed Detroit to immediately tie the game. Omar Infante doubled in the third inning, and later scored on a Quintin Berry dribbler that pitcher Jarrod Parker couldn’t handle. And Alex Avila delivered an insurance run with a leadoff home run in the fifth inning.
The win obviously puts Detroit in a great position; a split of the remaining four games will take the series (and Justin Verlander will be able to go again in game five if needed). The Tigers now have an opportunity to take a 2-0 lead heading to Oakland. Doug Fister will start Sunday’s 12:07 PM game.