The Oakland A’s evened their series with the Detroit Tigers on Saturday night. Sonny Gray led the charge with eight shutout innings as the A’s were able to win in the bottom of the 9th with a walk-off hit from Stephen Vogt. Pitching from both teams was dominant as the game remained scoreless until Vogt’s hit. The series will resume on Monday in Detroit.
Gray, 23, was close to untouchable for the A’s. The rookie right-hander struck out 9 Tigers and only allowed 4 hits and 2 walks. The closest Detroit came to scoring off of him was in the top of the 5th. They were able to get runners on 1st and 3rd with one out due to a walk to Omar Infante, a groundout by Don Kelly and an infield single from Jose Iglesias. However, Gray easily got out of it by striking out Austin Jackson and Iglesias being thrown out trying to steal second.
Gray’s counterpart, Justin Verlander, was equally as good, if not better. Verlander, the 2011 AL Cy Young and MVP, was simply dominant Saturday night. In seven masterful innings, Verlander struck out 11 batters and allowed only 4 hits and a walk. In the bottom of the 7th, the A’s were able to get runners on 2nd and 3rd with two outs after Josh Reddick’s base hit moved Brandon Moss to 3rd and Reddick took 2nd on the throw from Torii Hunter. Verlander was able to strikeout Stephen Vogt after a long at-bat. Vogt fouled off several pitches before waving at a high fastball.
While the Tigers weren’t able to do anything with Gray in the 8th or A’s closer Grant Balfour in the 9th, the Athletics mad a little noise in the bottom of the 8th. Lefty Drew Smyly was brought in to replace Verlander, as Verlander was at 117 pitches. Pinch-hitter Alberto Callaspo led off the inning with a double. After getting Coco Crisp to foul out, Smyly then walked Jed Lowrie. Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland then brought in Al Albuquerque, who subsequently struck out Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss to end the threat.
However, the A’s would finally breakthrough in the 9th inning. Albuquerque would allow back-to-back hits to open the inning. He then intentionally walked Josh Reddick to load the bases before giving way to Ric Porcello. Porcello then allowed the walk-off single to Vogt, who had struck out three times previously. Vogt was mobbed by his teammates as he rounded 1stbase as the capacity crowd went wild.
Game 3 on Monday will start at 1:07 ET. Oakland will start Jarrod Parker, who is 12-8 with a 3.97 ERA and 1.22 WHiP. He’s pitched 197 innings with 134 Ks and 25 HRs allowed. He’ll face off against Anibal Sanchez. Sanchez led the AL in ERA at 2.57. He also went 14-8 with a 1.15 WHiP to go with 202 strikeouts in 182 innings. He’s tough to hit home runs off of, as he allowed only 9 all season.