OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Max Scherzer struck out five Oakland batters and Austin Jackson hit an RBI single as the Detroit Tigers took a 1-0 lead against the Athletics after three innings in Game 4 of their AL division series Wednesday night.
The Tigers were up 2-1 in the best-of-five series and are trying to return to the AL championship series for a second straight season.
With Oakland trying to stave off elimination again while playing before another sellout, yellow towel-waving Coliseum crowd, Yoenis Cespedes hit a first-inning single for the team's lone hit against Tigers 16-game winner Scherzer.
Right-hander A.J. Griffin became the third rookie A's pitcher to start a game this series after Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone, the first time it has happened in major league history in a single postseason. Griffin is the fifth rookie in Athletics history overall to make a postseason start.
"I never believed in that, I believe in talent," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said when asked beforehand about his team's experience advantage.
Griffin went 7-1 this season with his lone loss coming in a 12-2 defeat at Detroit on Sept. 18. He allowed a career-high five runs and matched his high in hits allowed with eight in 4 2-3 innings — and also gave up three home runs, solo drives by Jhonny Peralta and Miguel Cabrera and a two-run shot by Prince Fielder.
Playing to chants of "Let's go Oakland! Let's go Oakland!" and with dark clouds hovering right above the Coliseum, Griffin seemed unfazed by the big stage. He retired the first five batters of the game in order before Andy Dirks flared a double just out of reach for jumping third baseman Josh Donaldson.
The Tigers, who won the World Series on Oct. 10 in both 1945 and 1968, were hoping for another celebratory night in the Bay Area after they clinched the AL Central here last season.