Stephen Vogt hit an RBI single in the ninth inning to lift the Oakland Athletics to a 1-0 win over the Detroit Tigers and level their American League division series at a game apiece.
Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox got two homers from David Ortiz to beat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-4 and take a 2-0 lead in their AL division series.
The AL West division champion A’s had eight walk-off wins during the regular season, then did it again at the perfect time in the playoffs. It was also Vogt’s first career game-winning hit and came after Justin Verlander struck him out in the seventh for the third time in the game.
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. Sonny Gray hung tough with a masterful Verlander in a thrilling pitchers’ duel between the rookie making his 11th career start and the 2011 AL Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner.
Gray struck out nine in eight scoreless innings, allowing four hits in a sensational playoff debut. Verlander, who beat the A’s in Games 1 and 5 of last fall’s AL division series, struck out 11 more batters to give him 33 strikeouts in his past three post-season outings against Oakland.
“I knew there was going to be a lot of adrenaline and how I was able to harness that adrenaline was going to be a big factor in the game,” Gray said. “It was awesome because I was still able to locate my pitches without being too shaky.”
Game 3 is today in Detroit. Right-hander Jarrod Parker will start for the A’s against 14-game winner Anibal Sanchez.
In Boston, Ortiz had the first two-homer playoff game of his long career. He was a star for the 2004 Boston team that won the club’s first World Series title in 86 years and is the only player remaining from that team.
“When he hits two home runs, things are going to revolve around him,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “He’s the main cog in our lineup.”
Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits and scored three runs, and Dustin Pedroia drove in three runs for the Red Sox.
Tampa Bay’s David Price allowed seven runs on nine hits and two walks, striking out five. He took the mound for the eighth inning, but was chased after Ortiz hit his second homer.
John Lackey lasted just 5-1/3 innings for Boston, allowing four runs on seven hits and three walks. He struck out six to pick up the win. Boston won 12-2 in the opener, when every starter got a hit and scored a run. In Game 2, every Red Sox starter got a hit except Mike Napoli, who drew two walks.
The Rays will need a victory in Game 3 today in St Petersburg, Florida, to avoid a sweep in the best-of-five series.