By Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press –
DETROIT — Back and forth, back and forth, back and — the Detroit Tigers are headed forth to Oakland with a two-game lead.
Don Kelly hit a walk-off sacrifice fly with one out in the bottom of the ninth to give the Tigers a 5-4 win in Game 2 of the American League Division Series on Sunday at Comerica Park.
Kelly’s sacrifice off Oakland A’s closer Grant Balfour scored Omar Infante, who singled to right-center with one out.
Miguel Cabrera then singled to shallow centerfield to put runners at the corners and Prince Fielder was intentionally walked to load the bases before Kelly ended the wild ride in front of a sellout crowd of 40,684.
The Tigers clawed back three times in the game, each time responding to Oakland runs in the top half of the inning, and tied the game on a wild pitch in the eighth inning, when reliever Ryan Cook’s errant throw skipped under the glove of George Kottaras and plated Kelly from third.
Kelly pinch-ran for Delmon Young, who opened the inning with a sharp single to center.
Jhonny Peralta followed with a single, Andy Dirks sacrificed Kelly and Danny Worth — who pinch-ran for Peralta — into scoring position, but the Tigers couldn’t capitalize when Quintin Berry and Alex Avila, both pinch-hitting, struck out swinging.
Earlier in the eighth, after striking out six times in his first six postseason plate appearances, Josh Reddick gave the A’s a 3-2 lead with a solo home run to right field off Joaquin Benoit.
Reddick rounded the bases after Yoenis Cespedes rounded the bases in less traditional fashion, tying the game after blooping a single to right-center, stealing second, then third, then scoring on a wild pitch by Benoit.
Detroit trailed by a run in the bottom of the seventh, but Austin Jackson and Infante hit back-to-back two-out singles off reliever Sean Doolittle. Cabrera then lifted a fly ball to center which Coco Crisp bobbled. It dropped for an error and both runners scored.
Both starting pitchers didn’t factor into the decision.
Doug Fister went seven innings, allowing two runs on six hits. He struck out eight, walked two and surrendered the lead on a RBI single to Cliff Pennington in the seventh.
Entering the game, Pennington was 1-for-21 against Fister. His seventh inning single was his second of the game.
Meanwhile, rookie lefty Tommy Milone cashed in a quality start of six innings, allowing one run on five hits. He struck out six, walked one and kept the Tigers’ bats at bay.
The A’s touched Fister up for a run on four singles in the third, scoring on a Cespedes RBI single, and the Tigers responded with a RBI groundout from Young in the bottom half of the inning.
Cabrera doubled twice and Peralta had two hits for the Tigers.
The ALDS resumes on Tuesday night in Oakland on TBS TV.