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Crisp continues to be catalyst in leadoff role

Crisp continues to be catalyst in leadoff role

Crisp continues to be catalyst in leadoff role
DETROIT -- On another night and against another pitcher, it very well could have ended up being the biggest hit of a big victory.

Coco Crisp stunned Tigers ace Justin Verlander, the pitcher's teammates, a packed crowd in Comerica Park and likely a good portion of the American League Division Series-viewing public with his leadoff home run to right field in Game 1 on Saturday night.

The ballpark went silent. The A's dugout went ballistic. Things were looking way up for upstart Oakland, which took an improbable one-run lead after about two minutes of play.

A's vs. Tigers

Alas, Verlander reverted to form, moving past the brief hiccup and carving up the A's for the rest of the night, pitching seven innings, giving up only two more hits and striking out 11 in a 3-1 Tigers win.

But Crisp continues to be a catalyst, and that could bode well for the A's as they move forward in the ALDS.

"It's always exciting to do something that's going to help the team, whether it's a base hit, walk ... anything," Crisp said. "For us to be able to start off the game like that, it was definitely a good feeling."

Crisp's teammates were impressed.

"Any time you're facing Verlander, there's a chance you're getting no-hit," Jonny Gomes said. "I mean, there really is. So to get rid of the no-hitter and the shutout right away, that's a big monkey off your back."

Gomes pointed out that Crisp isn't fazed by the heat of the postseason. Crisp was a member of the 2007 Boston Red Sox team that won the World Series, after all. This stuff is nothing new for him.

Unfortunately for Oakland, Crisp's shot accounted for the only noise they'd make off last year's AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner.

"He's been pressure-tested, and he's carried a lot of weight for us," Gomes said. "Whether he's vocal or not vocal, he's our leadoff guy and our center fielder, so he's probably [one] of the most important people on our team in terms of how you score runs and how you save runs."

Crisp just shrugged and shook his head when asked about how the rest of the game went. He knew what he and the A's were up against.

"He's obviously one of the best pitchers in the league, so we had to go out there and battle against him, and we did that," said Crisp, who helped, at least, in stretching Verlander to 121 pitches in seven innings.

"He just was able to man up. I think our pitchers did a good job of manning up, too. They just beat us today, but it's not how you start. It's how you finish. Obviously you'd like to win the first one, but we've got a long ways to go, and we've just got to come out tomorrow and win a ballgame."

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB and read his MLBlog, Youneverknow. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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