DETROIT - The Tigers did what they had to do -- even if they needed some help.
They won both home games to start this American League Division Series, scoring a 5-4 victory over the Oakland A's in the bottom of the ninth inning at Comerica Park before a sellout crowd of 40,684 on Sunday afternoon.
Forget that the Tigers got gifts from the A's as if it were Christmas, including two runs when a ball was misplayed in the outfield and another run on a wild pitch that tied the game at 4-4. Both presents came with two outs.
Nonetheless, there are no style points in the postseason. It's win and move on. That's what the Tigers, up 2-0 in this best-of-five series, are going to do now. They have a chance to play in the ALCS. All they need to do is win one of the possible next three games in Oakland.
"This is a nice win for us," Tigers' manager Jim Leyland said. "But we've got a lot of work to do. They'll be waiting for us at the Coliseum and we've got to win a game, somehow."
Game 3 is Tuesday night and Anibal Sanchez starts instead of Max Scherzer, who was pushed backed.
Game 2 starter Doug Fister followed up Justin Verlander's gem in the first game with a strong outing. He allowed just two runs on six hits and struck out eight in seven innings of work.
"It's a matter of we were feeling good about ourselves," said Fister about the wild celebration on the field after Don Kelly knocked in the game-winner with a sacrifice fly with one out. "We've taken care of business here."
Still, Leyland isn't close to thinking that this series is over, especially when you realize what the A's had to do to overtake the Texas Rangers and win the AL West on the last day of the season after trailing by 13 games at one point.
"We're playing a hell of a team," Leyland said. "You saw them today. They're not going to cash it in, trust me. Their manager's tough. Their players are tough. And we got a long, long way to go yet."
The A's have to be sick. They came to Detroit and didn't allowed Miguel Cabrera or Prince Fielder to get an RBI in either game. Normally, that means you had great success. Instead, the A's head home empty handed and appear as if they are doomed in the new postseason format in which the team with the worst record got to play the first two games at home.
The Tigers fully took advantage of it. But, in no means, was it a total piece of cake.
Just when it looked like the A's were toast, they fought back in the eighth inning. Yoenis Cespedes led off with a single against Joaquin Benoit.
Cespedes also stole second and third with one out. He scored the tying run on a wild pitch by Benoit. It was 3-3.
Not for long, though. Josh Reddick, who struck out three times in Game 1 and three more times on Sunday, crushed a solo homer, giving Oakland a 4-3 lead.
"I'm not concerned," said Leyland about Benoit. "It is what it is. I totally believe in him. I totally believe in our bullpen. And that's not going to change. That's our team."
The Tigers were only in position to win this game because they got a huge break in the bottom of the seventh inning. With two outs and none on, the Tigers got back-to-back singles from Austin Jackson and Omar Infante. It brought up Cabrera.
The A's appeared as if they would get out of the inning without any damage when Cabrera hit a popup to center. But centerfielder Coco Crisp misplayed it. In an attempt to make a basket catch, the ball hit off his wrist and both runners scored, giving the Tigers a 3-2 lead on the error.
"He breaks back and has to recover," said A's manager Bob Melvin about Crisp, a really good center fielder. "He ended up making a basket catch that just popped out of his glove."
Leyland added, "It was an unfortunate play for them and a fortunate play for us."
The A's didn't cry over it. They just need a win -- badly.
"You just have to move on,'' Melvin said. ``If you let it stick in your craw, you won't be prepared for Tuesday."
The Tigers better be ready, too. The home cooking is over.
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