The Oakland Athletics scored only one run in their ALDS Game 2 versus the Detroit Tigers, but it was the only run they needed. In the bottom of the 9th, Stephen Vogt singled to score Yoenis Cespedes and, just like that, the series was tied 1-1.
In his first postseason start, Sonny Gray pitched 8 innings with only 4 hits and no runs. Grant Balfour got the win by pitching the 9th and giving up no hits or runs.
Not to be undone by the rookie Sonny, veteran Justin Verlander threw a good game himself. The righty went 7 scoreless innings and allowed only 4 hits. He struck out 11 A’s. Drew Smyly and Al Alburquerque took the Tigers through the 8th inning without any damage. In the 9th, however, Alburquerque allowed singles to Cespedes and Seth Smith. He walked Josh Reddick intentionally. With the bases loaded and no outs, Rick Porcello was brought in, but it was too late. He allowed Vogt’s walk-off single.
If the Red Sox can hold off the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS, they’ll be facing either the A’s or the Tigers in the ALCS. Both Detroit and Oakland offer challenges for Boston. The Sox’s hot offense would have to learn to hit Gray quickly. None of our batters have faced him yet. The Sox have 7 hits in 21 at bats against Verlander in 2013 which is an impressive .333, but just 8 hits in 32 ABs in 2012.
The Sox would have homefield advantage in either match up. In away games, the A’s have AL-best 104 HRs and second-best 414 runs. Detroit has the most hits in the AL, 797, in away games and the second best batting average. The Sox would have their work cut out for them against either team.