OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A pair of Oakland rookies, one heralded and the other a relative unknown, provided everything the Athletics needed to tie their AL division series with Detroit at one game apiece.
Stephen Vogt hit an RBI single in the ninth inning after rookie Sonny Gray matched zeros with Justin Verlander in a sensational playoff debut, lifting Oakland over the Tigers 1-0 on Saturday night.
Yoenis Cespedes and Seth Smith hit back-to-back singles against loser Al Alburquerque to start the winning rally, then Josh Reddick was intentionally walked before Rick Porcello entered to face Vogt. He lined a clean single past drawn-in shortstop Jose Iglesias to win it.
The AL West champion A's had eight walk-off wins during the regular season, then did it again at the perfect time on baseball's October stage. This was Vogt's first career game-winning hit — and after he lost a 10-pitch at-bat with Verlander in the seventh for his third strikeout of the night.
Grant Balfour pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the win.
Game 3 is Monday afternoon in Detroit. Right-hander Jarrod Parker, who pitched Game 1 at Comerica Park last year and lost to Verlander, goes for the A's against 14-game winner Anibal Sanchez.
Alburquerque struck out two batters in the eighth. He is still remembered for kissing the ball while recording an out in the ninth inning of a Game 2 win last October.
The A's got him this time.
Gray hung tough with a masterful Verlander in a thrilling pitchers' duel between the rookie making his 11th career start and the 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner. Each calmly worked out of tough jams, wore their emotions on their sleeves — with fist pumps and cheers — and set down the heart of the other's batting order.