DETROIT — Miguel Cabrera has said all season long that it takes 25 guys to win, and Sunday’s American League Division Series Game 2 proved him right.
Don Kelly will get the credit for the game-winning sacrifice fly, but it took a lot to get the Tigers into position for a huge 5-4 walk-off victory over the Oakland A’s.
The first was starter Doug Fister, who allowed just two runs on six hits in seven innings of work.
Fister, who had eight strikeouts, didn’t get the victory, but his efforts didn’t go unnoticed.
“He threw the ball well,” catcher Gerald Laird said. “He had a good change-up, breaking ball and mixed in his fastball.
“Fisty pitched a heck of a game.”
In three career playoff starts with the Tigers, Fister has a 2.33 ERA.
Another big factor in the win came in the third inning. The A’s had already scored the game’s first run on Yoenis Cespedes’ RBI single with one out. Brandon Moss then got a base hit to right field that rookie Avisail Garcia fielded and threw a bullet to home plate to get Coco Crisp trying to score from second.
“I was anticipating the play and saying, ‘If it’s a ground ball here, I have to make a good throw,’ and I made it,” Garcia said. “Every play is important because you have to save the run.”
When Garcia was called up, manager Jim Leyland mentioned that the young outfielder had a great arm among his many tools.
“It was a huge throw,” Leyland said. “Most everybody concentrates on offense, but when you have an outfielder that can hit and run, and he’s got that good arm and the capability of throwing somebody out, that’s why you call him a tools player.”
In the seventh inning, there was another major play. With two out and two on and the A’s leading 2-1, Cabrera hit a fly ball to shallow center field. Crisp attempted to make a running basket catch, but the ball hit the heel of his glove and was dropped for an error, which allowed Austin Jackson and Jhonny Peralta to score.
“Obviously, we’re playing Cabrera deep, but I think I had a good read on the ball,” Crisp said. “It was just a tough situation because I had to make a decision between turning my glove over and going for the basket catch or trying to slide into the ball.
“I’ve made the catch both ways, and obviously this time, I made the wrong decision.”
Cabrera felt fortunate in that situation, even if he didn’t get any RBI because it was ruled an error on Crisp.
“We’re lucky right there because he do what he can do to catch the ball,” Cabrera said. “He plays so deep. You can’t blame him because he do a good job to get to the ball because he was so far.”
Danny Worth came into the game in the bottom of the eighth as a pinch-runner for Peralta and was playing shortstop in the top of the ninth.
Cliff Pennington walked with one out. Crisp then hit a ball deep in the hole that Worth managed to get and nearly turned a double play, with Crisp barely beating Omar Infante’s throw to first.
“He hit it in the hole and I just got to it,” Worth said. “I was just trying to get rid of it fast, try to give Omar a good feed just so we could try to end the inning with the double play. All you have to do right there is get the force-out.”
All of those plays, plus some clutch pitching from Al Alburquerque, have led the Tigers to a 2-0 series lead as they head out to Oakland with three chances to close it out.
“That’s what a team’s all about, everybody making contributions,” Leyland said. “And we got a long, long way to go yet.
“This is a nice win for us, 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.”
Sanchez in Game 3
Anibal Sanchez will get his first career postseason start Tuesday in Game 3 in Oakland.
Laird is confident that the situation will not change Sanchez.
“I expect to see the same things in the last couple of outings,” Laird said. “Sometimes it takes a while for a guy to adapt to a new team and new league and get familiar with everything and feel comfortable.
“But I knew what we were getting, seeing him last year a little bit with St. Louis and seeing him in the past just kind of going through Florida. And I knew he had great stuff.”
In his last 10 regular-season starts, Sanchez was 3-5 with a 3.59 ERA. In his last start, Sept. 30 in Minnesota, he allowed one run on seven hits while walking one and striking out four in 6 1/3 innings.