Don Kelly's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted the Detroit Tigers to a 5-4 victory over the Oakland A's. Detroit now leads the best-of-five series 2-0 as the teams head to Oakland for Game 3 Tuesday night.
For six innings, it was a taut pitching duel similar to the first game of the series. Doug Fister and Tom Milone were both brilliant, going seven and six innings respectively and keeping the score tied at one until the seventh inning. Oakland scored its initial run on a Yoenis Cespedes RBI single in the top of the third. Detroit answered with an RBI groundout by Delmon Young to tie the score.
Oakland broke ahead in the top of the seventh. Seth Smith led off with a walk, then was sacrificed by George Kottaras. Cliff Pennington slapped a single to center field, plating Smith and making it 2-1.
Sean Doolittle came in to replace Milone in the bottom of the seventh and promptly retired the first two Tiger hitters. A pair of two-out singles by Austin Jackson and Omar Infante brought Miguel Cabrera to the plate.
On an 0-1 pitch, Cabrera hit a soft fly ball to center field. Coco Crisp broke back, then charged in, but the ball hit the heel of his glove and then went off his hand, allowing both runners to score and giving Detroit a 3-2 lead.
Remarkably, the A's bounced back in the next inning. Cespedes led off with a single, and after Brandon Moss flied out, stole second and third base off Detroit reliever Joaquin Benoit. On a 2-2 pitch to Josh Reddick, Benoit threw a wild pitch, and Cespedes scored to tie the game at three. Then on the very next pitch, Reddick slammed a line-drive home run to right field to take a 4-3 lead.
But it would not last. Ryan Cook entered for Oakland and immediately gave up singles to Young and Jhonny Peralta. After a sacrifice moved the runners to second and third, Cook struck out pinch hitter Quintin Berry for the second out. Then, remarkably, Cook threw a wild pitch to score pinch runner Kelly, and the score was tied at four.
The A's had a chance in the top of the ninth with runners on first and third with two outs for Cespedes. But Detroit's Al Alburquerque induced a harmless topper back to him and kissed the ball before retiring Cespedes, setting the stage for Detroit's rally in the ninth.
After Jackson struck out, Infante hit a single off Grant Balfour. With Cabrera up, Balfour got ahead 1-2 in the count before hanging a breaking ball that Cabrera slapped to center for a single. Infante moved to third, prompting the A's to intentionally walk Prince Fielder. Kelly then hit a medium-deep fly ball to right center field to plate the winning run.
Down 0-2, the A's will look to mirror the efforts of the 1995 Seattle Mariners, who lost the first two games of their ALDS series against the New York Yankees before winning the last three at home. Tuesday's game is set for a 6:07 p.m. PT start in Oakland.