Athletics: B+ . For the first four innings of his first postseason start, Jarrod Parker matched Justin Verlander. He allowed two runs, but one was on a double-play groundout and the other was on an error by himself. But Alex Avila homered to lead off the fifth to open up a 3-1 lead for the Tigers and Parker exited with runners on first and second in the seventh. His final line was six and a third innings pitched, seven hits, three runs (two earned), one walk and five strikeouts.
Once he turned it over to the bullpen, Pat Neshek, dealing with the tragedy of losing his newborn child earlier in the week, stranded the runners in the seventh and received a well-deserved standing ovation from the fans in Detroit. Jerry Blevins pitched a scoreless eighth.
Overall, the Athletics pitched well tonight, but they gave up two runs too many.
Tigers: A. For the first five innings, Justin Verlander didn't have his best stuff. He gave up a leadoff home run to Coco Crisp and walked three. But he looked like the 2011 American League MVP in the sixth and seventh, when he struck out five in a row.
He ended up walking four in seven innings, but he got the job done. His final line shows seven innings, three hits, one run, four walks and 11 strikeouts, but the most important statistic in the playoffs: a win.
Joaquim Benoit relieved him in the eighth and almost allowed the tying runs to score on a deep fly ball by Brandon Moss, but he ended up pitching a scoreless inning.
Jose Valverde came in to close out the game in the ninth and retired the Athletics in order with two strikeouts.
Aside from the first hitter of the game, the Tigers completely shut down the Athletics' lineup tonight.