The Detroit Tigers struck for three runs in the fop of the first inning and held on for a 3-2 victory on Friday night against the Oakland A’s in Game 1 of their American League Division Series at the O.co Coliseum.
Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer allowed two runs and three hits in seven innings to pick up the victory. Scherzer, who went 21-3 during the regular season and led the American League in wins, struck out 11 and walked two.
A’s left fielder Yoenis Cespedes launched a two-run homer in the seventh inning — his first career postseason blast — and tripled in the second.
A’s right-hander Bartolo Colon took the loss, allowing three runs — all in the first inning — and 10 hits in six innings in his first career postseason appearance against Detroit. He struck out four and walked none.
The A’s cut Detroit’s lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh when Brandon Moss reached base on an infield single and Cespedes sent a Scherzer fastball deep into the left field seats. Scherzer retired the next three batters he faced.
In the bottom of the eighth, Tigers left-hander Drew Smyly struck out pinch-hitter Alberto Callaspo, walked Coco Crisp and struck out Jed Lowrie before giving way to right-hander Joaquin Benoit, who retired Josh Donaldson on a popup.
Benoit pitched a perfect ninth, striking out Moss, Cespedes and Reddick for the save.
Tigers pitchers struck out 15 A’s, with Scherzer doing most of the work.
Scherzer had nine strikeouts in the first five innings and allowed just one hit, Cespedes’ second-inning triple. He fanned one in the first, two in the second, one in the third, three in the fourth and two in the fifth.
In the fourth, Scherzer struck out all three A’s he faced in the heart of the batting order. He painted a 95 mph fastball on the outside corner for strike three to Donaldson, the No. 3 hitter. Moss and Cespedes struck out swinging at changeups.
Scherzer fanned Donaldson again in the sixth for strikeout No. 10 with two outs and Crisp on first via a walk. Donaldson whiffed on a 93 mph fastball and slammed his bat down in frustration.
Colon’s struggles against Detroit continued. He took a no-decision in both of his regular-season starts against the Tigers this year, and he hasn’t defeated them since April 13, 2003. In his past 14 games and 13 regular-season starts against Detroit, he’s 0-7 with a 6.93 ERA.
The A’s, who took the tarps off the third deck in the stadium, drew a sellout of 48,401, their largest home crowd since drawing 53,974 for a game against the San Francisco Giants on June 27, 2004. The A’s fans remained loud throughout the game and were finally rewarded with Cespedes two-run shot in the seventh.
Colon threw five shutout innings after the first, and A’s relievers Dan Otero and Sean Doolittle combined to blank Detroit in the final three.
The Tigers jumped on Colon for three runs in the top of the first inning, sending seven batters to the plate. Colon hadn’t allowed three or more runs in the first inning all season until Friday and three runs in a game since Aug. 13.
Austin Jackson led off with a double into the right-field corner, and Colon hit Torii Hunter on the left elbow with a 1-0 fastball that tailed inside. Miguel Cabrera grounded Colon’s first pitch to center field for a single, bringing Jackson home and sending Hunter to third.
Prince Fielder grounded into a double play, but Hunter raced home to make it 2-0. Victor Martinez lined an opposite-field double to left center, keeping the inning going. Then Alex Avila grounded an RBI single to right that went under first baseman Daric Barton’s glove and got past diving second baseman Eric Sogard.
The Tigers thwarted the A’s in the second when Cespedes roped a one-out triple to left, but Scherzer struck out Reddick with a 96 mph fastball and retired Stephen Vogt on a line drive to Fielder at first.
The A’s missed a scoring opportunity in the third when Crisp worked a two-out walk and went to second on a Scherzer wild pitch before Lowrie grounded out softly to second.
The Tigers didn’t produce many extra-base hits down the stretch, but manager Jim Leyland said he probably won’t get much more aggressive on the base paths during the playoffs in an effort to manufacture runs. “You might pick a spot here and there, but we are what we are pretty much,” Leyland said before Game 1. “We know we’re pretty much a gap team and an over-the-fence team, and I don’t think you get out of character right now. This is how we got here and this is way we’ll probably either go on or go out.” ... From Sept. 14 to the end of the regular season, Cespedes started in left field only once because of tendinitis in his right shoulder, but he started in left on Friday night. ... Sogard, a left-handed hitter, got the start at second base for the A’s over switch-hitter Alberto Callaspo. ... Former A’s outfielder Dave Henderson, a member of the A’s 1989 World Series championship team, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.