The A's struck out an MLB-worst 1,387 times during the regular season, while the Tigers' pitching staff recorded 1,325 strikeouts, which was second best in the American League. Those numbers held up Saturday, when Detroit struck out 14 Oakland batters, including eight in the last four innings. The only other time the Tigers struck out 14 batters in a postseason game came in Game 3 of the 1972 AL Championship Series, also against the A's. The Tigers' next-highest postseason strikeout total (13) also came against Oakland in the 2006 ALCS.
Miguel Cabrera may have won the Triple Crown, but he also led the league in a category he probably wishes he didn't -- grounding into double plays. Cabrera grounded into 28 of them during the season, and he did so in his first at-bat Saturday with runners on first and third and no outs in the first. The Tigers led the Majors in grounding into double plays, while the A's were tied with the Angels for last in the AL in inducing them, with only 112 forced.
Only 11 of 25 players on the Athletics' postseason roster were on the Opening Day roster, and only eight played for Oakland prior to this year. As for the Tigers, 19 of the 25 players on their playoff roster were on the season-opening squad.
Entering Saturday, Justin Verlander had pitched in a Game 1 in the playoffs three times in his career, and he went 0-3 in those games. One of those games was shortened due to rain, and he pitched just one inning.
Coming into the game, Coco Crisp had eight hits off Verlander, which was one more hit than the rest of the A's combined. Crisp went 1-for-4 against Verlander on Saturday night, while his teammates went a combined 2-for-20.
Crisp became the fourth A's player to lead off a postseason game with a homer. He joins Bert Campaneris, Rickey Henderson and Ray Durham, who most recently did it in Game 3 of the ALDS against Minnesota in 2002. It was Crisp's first career playoff homer, and it was the ninth leadoff homer of his career. Crisp's home run was the fifth leadoff homer off Verlander this year after he allowed only four over his previous seven years. Also, three of the last four home runs off Verlander have been by the leadoff hitter.
The A's became only the second team to start four rookies in a postseason game, which includes starter Jarrod Parker. He became just the third rookie pitcher to start a postseason game in A's history after Barry Zito (2000) and Joe Bush (1913), who both won. Fellow rookie Tommy Milone starts Sunday's game. The D-backs were the first team to start four rookies back in 2007. They were managed by current Oakland manager Bob Melvin at the time.
The Tigers were 73-for-245 (.298) vs. the A's in seven regular-season games this season, which is tied for their best average against AL teams. However, Detroit's pitching staff had a 5.31 ERA in those seven games, their second-worst ERA against any team this year.
Alex Angert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.