DETROIT – Jarrod Parker pitched well enough to keep Oakland in the game against Detroit.
Trying to field his position proved costly to the Athletics.
Parker’s error allowed the Tigers to score a go-ahead run in the third inning of a 3-1 win over the A’s on Saturday night in Game 1 of their AL division series.
If he fields it cleanly, he gets the out, Oakland manager Bob Melvin said.
The right-handed rookie from Norwell High School scooped Quintin Berry’s dribbler down the first-base line with his glove. It looked as if he then tried to flip it to first baseman Brandon Moss – a converted outfielder – and found out too late his teammate wasn’t on the bag.
Berry was safe at first and Omar Infante scored to give Detroit a 2-1 lead in the closely contested opener of the five-game series.
Parker appeared dumbfounded that Moss didn’t aggressively charge the grounder or cover first to await a throw.
Game 2 is today, about 15 hours after the final out of Game 1, at Comerica Park before the series shifts to Oakland. Doug Fister will take the mound for Detroit and left-hander Tommy Milone for Oakland.
Parker gave up three runs – two earned – and seven hits over 6 1/3 innings. He walked only one, struck out five and gave up a solo homer to Alex Avila that gave the Tigers a two-run lead in the fifth inning.
It wasn’t like we blistered the ball around. Parker was pretty good, Detroit manager Jim Leyland said.
The Tigers chased Parker with two singles in the seventh.
Oakland relief pitcher Pat Neshek entered the game, getting the final two outs of the inning and stranding two runners – soon after the death of his newborn son.
Not only was it good for us, it was good for him, Melvin said.
Neshek’s son, Gehrig John, died 23 hours after his birth and he posted the tragic news on his Twitter account late Wednesday. He told reporters that being at the ballpark and playing catch helped with the healing process.
The A’s got off to a fantastic start offensively with Coco Crisp hitting a leadoff homer off Justin Verlander before fizzling at the plate against the reigning AL MVP and Cy Young award winner.
The AL Central-champion Tigers tied it immediately. Austin Jackson’s hard-hit ball deflected off diving shortstop Stephen Drew and into short left field. The Detroit leadoff man ended up with a double and went to third when Berry slapped a single to third off Josh Donaldson, who also could only get a piece of the ball while diving for it.
Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, who went hitless, grounded into a double play, but Jackson came home to make it 1-all.
Avila’s solo shot in the fifth inning made it 3-1, and the A’s couldn’t break through against Verlander, even with the reigning MVP’s pitch count rising.
Verlander matched a career playoff-high with 11 strikeouts against the team that led baseball with 1,387 strikeouts this season.
Early on, didn’t have great control of any of my pitches, Verlander said. But I was able to get myself out of jams that I created.
Joaquin Benoit pitched the eighth and Jose Valverde struck out two in a perfect ninth for the save.