Oakland gets major performances from Gray, Vogt in ALDS victory over Detroit

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The A’s got him this time.

Gray hung tough with a masterful Verlander in a thrilling pitchers’ duel between the rookie making his 11th career start and the 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner. Each calmly worked out of tough jams, wore their emotions on their sleeves — with fist pumps and cheers — and set down the heart of the other’s batting order.

Gray struck out nine in eight dazzling innings, allowing four hits. Verlander, who beat the A’s twice in the ALDS last fall, struck out 11 to give him 33 Ks in his past three postseason outings against Oakland.

The right-hander ran his postseason scoreless streak against the A’s to 22 innings, unfazed by a rowdy sellout crowd of 48,292 on its feet and swirling yellow towels all night.

Or, by Gray’s impressive display.

At the start of Verlander’s remarkable 2011 season, Gray was finishing up at Vanderbilt before becoming the 18th overall draft pick.

“Obviously, he has a lot of angst and nerves, biggest game of his career,” Verlander said. “Sonny did one heck of a job.”

Brandon Moss drew a leadoff walk in the seventh and Reddick singled two outs later with Moss beating a throw to third and Reddick advancing. That gave the A’s their best scoring chance of the night against Verlander, with two Tigers relievers warming.

Vogt fouled off five straight pitches, laid off a ball and fouled another before ball two. He fouled one more but then struck out on a high 98 mph fastball, and Verlander marched off the mound pumping both fists.

“The at-bat with Verlander, he kept coming at me with everything he’s got,” Vogt said. “Obviously I didn’t come through, ended up with a punchout. I felt pretty good about that at-bat. … You come up with bases loaded in the ninth, that’s what you dream of.”

Facing his biggest jam of the night with runners at the corners and one out in the fifth, Gray got Austin Jackson to swing on a 3-0 count and later struck him out. Vogt also fired a perfect throw to second base from behind the plate to get Iglesias for an inning-ending double play.

With a pretty curveball and a fastball firing up to 97 mph, Verlander looked every bit the ace after an up-and-down year in which he managed only one win over his final 10 regular-season starts.

Verlander was absolutely terrific,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “This is postseason pitching. That’s what you saw tonight at its absolute best.”

Gray could have been rattled when Torii Hunter pointed at him after the rookie threw high and inside in the top of the third. Hunter stepped well out of the batter’s box before returning and striking out on three straight pitches. Gray then fanned Cabrera to strike out the side in order.

A’s manager Bob Melvin was thrilled to see Vogt — one of three catchers on the roster — do a little bit of everything.

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