DETROIT (AP) — Coco Crisp sprinted in from deep center field to put himself in position to make a basket catch that would end the seventh inning with the Oakland Athletics clinging to a one-run lead.
Instead, the ball off Miguel Cabrera's bat hit the heel of Crisp's glove, popped in and out of the mitt's webbing and left him trying to snag it with his bare right hand on a third attempt to make a key play.
"I had to make a decision between turning my glove over and going for the basket catch or trying to slide into the ball," Crisp said. "I've made the catch both ways, and obviously this time, I made the wrong decision."
Crisp couldn't get a grip and the Tigers took advantage with two runs that helped them beat Oakland 5-4 Sunday and take a 2-0 lead in their AL division series.
"It was an unfortunate play for them and a fortunate play for us," Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "That's the human element of the game."
The Athletics will face elimination in Game 3 on Tuesday.
"They're not going to cash it in, trust me," Leyland said. "We've got a long way to go."
The A's will host the next three games — if they make them necessary in the five-game series.
Baseball is using a 2-3 format in the division series because there wasn't enough time to have an extra travel day with an extra wild-card team in both leagues.
After Crisp's error, Oakland responded with two runs in the eighth to get the lead back — on a wild pitch and Josh Reddick's solo homer — but blew it again in the home half before losing the possibly pivotal game in the ninth inning.
Reliever Ryan Cook got two outs in the eighth, but threw a wild pitch that allowed Don Kelly to score and make it 4-all.
"Both teams made some mistakes that got the other team in the game," A's manager Bob Melvin said.
Kelly ended the game in the ninth with a sacrifice fly off closer Grant Balfour that scored Omar Infante and put the A's in a tough spot.