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A's eke out battery-powered win in Game 2 of ALDS

  • Athletics catcher Stephen Vogt gets a pie in the face and is drenched in Gatorade after hitting the game-winning single to drive home the winning run against the Detroit Tigers on Saturday in Oakland. (Christopher Chung / PD)

OAKLAND – They spent much of the year as battery-mates in Sacramento, playing for the Triple-A River Cats. Saturday night at the Oakland Coliseum, they graduated to MLB postseason stardom.

Sonny Gray, the phenomenal rookie pitcher, logged a performance for the ages in Game 2 of this American League Division Series, and Stephen Vogt, the journeyman catcher from Visalia, delivered the winning hit in the A's 1-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers. The sellout crowd went home happy, and their team's playoff hopes remained alive.

“I've thrown to him all year,” Gray said of Vogt. “I threw to him every start in Sacramento, except for maybe two. And we have really good chemistry. He came up big for us, and it was awesome for him to be in that moment.”

Oakland A's vs. Detroit Tigers ALDS Game 2

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Vogt's walk-off single against a drawn-in infield in the bottom of the ninth inning capped another close game between these teams, who also faced off in the ALDS last year, the Tigers winning in five games.

But it was Gray, the 23-year-old who looks like he'll be trick-or-treating in a few weeks, who stole the show. Gray matched Detroit ace Justin Verlander pitch for pitch, strikeout for strikeout, all night long. Gray even managed to outlast Verlander, a renowned workhorse. Gray made it through eight innings. Verlander didn't make it out for the bottom of the eighth.

Verlander threw 117 pitches, Gray 111. Verlander struck out 11 batters, Gray nine. Each allowed four hits (and three of Gray's didn't even leave the infield), and each did it with raw heat and daring. And neither got a decision. Grant Balfour got the win after pitching the ninth inning in relief, and Al Alburquerque got the loss.

The series resumes Monday in Detroit.

At times, Gray and Verlander almost seemed to be trying to one-up one another's exploits.

In the top of the third inning, Gray struck out the top of the Detroit order – Jackson, Torii Hunter, and Miguel Cabrera. Verlander countered in the bottom of the fourth, when he struck out three of the A's four hitters – all of them looking.

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