OAKLAND — The Detroit Tigers scored three runs in the first inning and that was all they needed to beat the Oakland Athletics 3-2 in Game One of their American League Division Series on Friday night.
Ace Detroit pitcher Max Scherzer threw six scoreless innings before giving up a towering two-run homer to Yoenis Cespedes in the bottom of the seventh with none out that briefly brought the largest Oakland crowd in nearly a decade to life.
Scherzer, who recorded the most wins (21) for any major league pitcher in the regular season, showed his class to get through the rest of the inning without further damage.
The Athletics did not seriously threaten to score again as the Tigers held on to record a precious road win in the best-of-five series.
Scherzer, who accrued 11 strikeouts, gave up just three hits — two of them in the seventh — in the win while Bartolo Colon took the loss after conceding 10 hits in six innings.
After Scherzer had completed his work, Todd Smyly pitched 2/3 of an inning before Joaquin Benoit threw a four-out save, finishing off the game in style for the Tigers by striking out Josh Reddick.
“When you’re pitching you just go on your instincts and we had a gameplan what we wanted to do early in the game but when you get in the game sometimes it changes,” Scherzer said.
“Today my fastball seemed pretty good and my change-up seemed pretty good and early in the game I was pitching those two pitches a lot.
“I thought I did a good job of attacking the zone and throwing first pitch strikes and was able to get deep into the game and because of that I was able to pass the baton onto the bullpen … and they pitched lights out.”
Cuban slugger Cespedes was the only Oakland batter to worry Scherzer, recording a three-base hit in addition to his home run. Brandon Moss was the only other batter to record a hit.
It was a different story for the Tigers, as seven batters combined for 10 hits, although Miguel Cabrera was restricted to just one hit in four at-bats.
Game Two will be played in Oakland on Saturday, before the series moves to Detroit.