OAKLAND -- Sonny Gray on Saturday night became the seventh youngest pitcher to start an A's postseason game.

He did not act his age, as Torii Hunter can attest.

Hunter, the Detroit Tigers veteran, tried shooting the 23-year-old rookie a menacing look after a high-and-tight fastball early in Game 2 of the American League Division Series.

Gray responded by striking him out with a 95 mph fastball.

Still steaming, the kid really dialed it up. Before Hunter glared at him, Gray hadn't hit 96 mph on the radar gun once. He did so on four of the next eight pitches, according to MLB.com's pitch tracker, including a pair of 96s to finish off Miguel Cabrera with a swinging strikeout.

Inning over. Legend just beginning.

Gray's eight scoreless innings helped the A's secure a 1-0 victory to tie the best-of-five American League Division Series at a game apiece. Technically, Stephen Vogt won it with his ninth-inning single. But this one will be best remembered for the two starters who had no-hit stuff en route to their no-decisions.

Gray matched Tigers ace Justin Verlander zero for zero. It was a cinematic duel between the newbie and the established star, each of them dialing up heat on demand -- The Old Man and the K.

"This is postseason pitching. That's what you saw tonight at its best," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.


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Verlander pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing four hits, one walk and striking out 11. Gray pitched eight scoreless innings, allowing four hits, two walks and striking out nine.

Half of that equation makes sense. Verlander was a six-time All-Star making his 13th career postseason start.

Gray? His media bio entry details his exploits for the Sacramento River Cats earlier this season, noting his fine work against the likes of the Salt Lake Bees and New Orleans Zephyrs.

Funny as it sounds, Gray and Vogt leaned on that Triple-A experience in preparing for the defending American League champs. Vogt also started the season in Sacramento and caught most of Gray's starts there. So before this pressure-packed playoff game, they went over the scouting report as calmly as if they were back at Raley Field.

And it looked as if they were there, too. Austin Jackson struck out four times. Hunter struck out twice in during his 0-for-4 night. The heralded middle of the Tigers lineup -- Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez -- went a combined 1 for 12 with a single.

"For a 23-year-old kid like that on the stage he was on, I can't say enough about the job he did," Vogt said. "It's just a testament to the kid he is."

Gray didn't even make his major league debut until July 10. But by the eighth inning Saturday night, he had clearly made a name for himself. When Gray walked off the mound after a dominant eighth inning, 48,292 fans chanted "Son-ny! Son-ny! Son-ny!" as if they'd known him for years.

Gray is from place called Smyrna, Tenn., a city once ranked as one of the best places in the United States to retire. It will be a while before Gray can confirm that report.

"He was everything as advertised," Leyland said. "Good, live fastball -- 94, 95, 93, 96 — coupled with an electric curveball. He was terrific."

Gray said he was most proud, and most surprised, about being able to control his emotions. He said he wasn't as nervous or as amped up as he thought he would be and was "able to locate all my pitches without being too shaky."

The best example -- let's call it Exhibit K -- came in his third inning showdown with Hunter. After a fastball forced Hunter to lean back off the plate, the hitter was clearly displeased. The Hunter became the heated.

He told Vogt to stay away from his head. Hunter looked at the mound, then at umpire CB Bucknor, as TV cameras caught him snapping, "C'mon, man!"

Gray came on all right.

"It got me fired up a little bit, it did," he acknowledged. "After that, I had a little extra adrenaline."

Gray didn't take the exchange personally. He said that Hunter was one of his favorite players when he was young (i.e. not that long ago) and noted the five-time All-Star's reputation as one of the nicest guys in the game.

Gray recalled the thrill of facing him for the first time in a spring training game a few years ago when Hunter, then with the Angels, whistled a single that Gray thought might take his head off.

This time, though, Gray had his reply ready.

"He loves to pitch," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He's excited. He's not one of those guys that's stone-faced out there. He's into every pitch, and he really enjoys doing it. That's really worked for him over his career."

That career is just beginning.