As is typical in the first game of a playoff series, each team had their ace pitching for them. The Reds had Johnny Cueto (19-9, 2.78), the Giants had Matt Cain (16-5, 2.79), and the Tigers had Justin Verlander (17-8, 2.64). The only exception was the A’s, who had rookie starter Jarrod Parker (13-8, 3.47), who had admittedly been fantastic as a rookie after being acquired from Arizona. However, on this night of great pitchers, one stood out among the rest– last season’s AL MVP and Cy Young Justin Verlander.
On just the fourth pitch of the postseason, Coco Crisp went yard to right field off of Justin Verlander. His outing didn’t get off to a great start, as he actually threw 26 pitches in just the first inning. However, that wasn’t enough to prevent him from going 7 strong innings and striking out 11 Athletics as he earned the victory. The Tigers would slowly but surely take the lead away from the A’s: scoring on a double play in the first, a throwing error in the second, and finally an Alex Avila home run in the fifth. The A’s almost came back all the way on a shot by Brandon Moss, but right fielder Andy Dirks snagged it on the warning track as the Tigers coasted to a 3-1 win.
In the Reds-Giants game, there was even more of a premier pitching matchup. However, that option was sidelined quickly, just like Johnny Cueto, who was removed from the game after just two batters due to back spasms. A Reds’ mix of Sam LeCure, Mat Latos, Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton, and Aroldis Chapman would hold the Giants to just two runs in a full team win. Along with that mix of pitchers, the Reds were also carried by their offense. Brandon Phillips had a three run shot and Jay Bruce had a solo shot en route to a 5-2 win in Cincinnati.