OAKLAND -- The A's are going from a guy who threw like a Cy Young winner to a guy who's already won the Cy Young.

To say that things don't get easier for Oakland in the wake of a 3-2 loss to Detroit's Max Scherzer in Friday's Game 1 of the American League Division Series is like saying water is wet.

Justin Verlander is next up Saturday at 6:07 p.m. at the Coliseum, and the 2011 Cy Young winner was pretty much the reason why the Tigers beat the A's in the ALDS last year. He threw 16 innings and allowed one run.

"Scherzer had Cy Young stuff tonight," third baseman Josh Donaldson said. "He had a fastball from 93 to 99 (mph) and a changeup he could throw at will."

The A's saw Scherzer six weeks ago in Motown and ran him out of the game after five innings, having scored six times.

"This was two different pitchers," Donaldson said. "Unlike the other game, we didn't get anybody on base. When you do, you can make things happen, even when the guy is throwing great. Tonight that didn't happen."

So A's rookie Sonny Gray, who has never faced the Tigers before, much less pitched in the postseason, is charged Saturday with the task of doing what Bartolo Colon couldn't quite do Friday and keep the Tigers offense from jumping out early. Detroit got three runs in the first inning off Colon, who hadn't allowed three in the first all year.


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That was all it took. Yoenis Cespedes hit a two-run homer in the seventh, but the A's got just one more base runner after that.

Does anything change for Gray, whose biggest start before this, he says, was Vanderbilt's first game in the College World Series a couple years ago?

"I have to approach it the same, no matter," Gray said. "So, no (nothing changes)."

Something has to change for the A's, who got just three hits and who struck out 16 times and walked just three, all of them from leadoff man Coco Crisp.

"It is what it is," Crisp said. "It's unfortunate. We almost pulled it off. We just need to let this one go and start worrying about Mr. Verlander."

That the A's came back at all was thanks to Cespedes, who tripled in his first at-bat and homered in his third, both of them lasers to left field off Scherzer. He was happy that his troublesome right shoulder held together, but he was subdued beyond that.

"This is not just about me," Cespedes said. "It depends on the team. I was good today, but the rest of the team will be good tomorrow."

The A's had better hope so.

Oakland Athletics’ Yoenis Cespedes (52) is struck out by Detroit Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer (37) in the fourth inning of Game 1 of the American
Oakland Athletics' Yoenis Cespedes (52) is struck out by Detroit Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer (37) in the fourth inning of Game 1 of the American League Division Series at O.co Coliseum in Oakland on Oct. 4, 2013. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Staff)

Buoyed by the largest crowd to see a baseball game in the Coliseum since 2004 -- 48,401 -- the A's limped for six innings before Cespedes struck in the seventh. In the eighth, Crisp walked with one out, but Jed Lowrie struck out and Donaldson popped out. Then in the ninth, Detroit closer Joaquin Benoit struck out Brandon Moss, Cespedes and Josh Reddick to close it out.

Colon had allowed only 10 runs in the first inning all year, just two in the first inning of his September starts. But he gave up a double to leadoff hitter Austin Jackson on a high fastball, then hit Torii Hunter with a pitch after having not hit a batter all season.

Miguel Cabrera singled and Prince Fielder hit into a double play, each man getting a run home. When Alex Avila got a single past Daric Barton at first base, the A's were in a huge hole.

"The Cabrera ball was on a good pitch," catcher Steven Vogt said. "But Bartolo got a couple of balls up in the inning, and that almost never happens."

Enter Verlander. And Gray.

"This team has been good at putting games like this behind us," Reddick said. "We need to do it again."

  • Cespedes and Rickey Henderson (Game 4 of the 1989 World Series) are the only players in A's history with a triple and a homer in the same postseason game.

  • The A's 16 strikeouts are the most for an Oakland team in a postseason game.

  • Reddick, who threw out Victor Martinez at the plate in the sixth, has thrown out runners five times in the last eight games.

    For more on the A's, see John Hickey's Insider at blogs.ibabuzz.com/athletics. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JHickey3.

  • Rookie Gray aims to emulate
    Pirates' Cole in Game 2. PAGE 4

  • Cespedes clutch in loss. PAGE 5