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Place: O.co Coliseum, Oakland, California
The Oakland Athletics made a habit of dramatic wins during the regular season and have carried that over into the playoffs. After leading the majors with 14 walk-off wins during the regular season, the Athletics had their first of the playoffs in Game 4 on Wednesday, staving off elimination and forcing a decisive Game 5.
Their reward is another date with Justin Verlander, who will start for the Detroit Tigers opposite Jarrod Parker.
The Tigers were counting the days until the start of the American League Championship Series with a 3-1 lead in the ninth inning on Wednesday but Seth Smith clubbed a two-run double to tie it and Coco Crisp won it with a single to right two batters later.
Oakland was miffed about the postseason format after dropping the first two on the road but have no complaints anymore with a chance to advance in their own ballpark on Thursday night. Detroit has not lost three in a row since a four-game slide from Sept. 7-10.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Tigers RH Justin Verlander (1-0, 1.29 ERA) vs. Athletics RH Jarrod Parker (0-1, 2.84)
Verlander dominated in Game 1, allowing one run on three hits while striking out 11 and walking four. The reigning Cy Young and MVP has allowed two earned runs or less in his last five starts dating back to the regular season and has gone 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA in three starts against Oakland this season. Verlander has made nine starts in his career at O.co Coliseum, going 4-4 with a 2.47 ERA.
Parker could not quite match up with Verlander in Game 1, allowing three runs (two earned) and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings. The rookie right-hander’s own error allowed the go-ahead run to score in the third and Alex Avila reached him for a solo home run in the fifth.
Parker still managed to post his seventh straight quality start. Like most Athletics pitchers, Parker has been better at home, going 6-5 with a 2.61 ERA in 15 starts at the Coliseum.
1. Detroit Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera is 5-for-16 (.312) in the series but has yet to home or drive in a run.
2. Oakland RF Josh Reddick kicked off the rally in the ninth with a single to improve to 2-for-14 with eight strikeouts in the series.
3. Tigers slugger Prince Fielder broke out of a slump with a home run in a 2-for-4 performance. He had been 1-for-12 in the first four games.