Justin Verlander shut down Oakland after a leadoff homer, and Alex Avila went deep in the fifth inning to lift the Detroit Tigers over the Athletics 3-1 in the opener of their AL playoff Saturday night.
Verlander allowed three hits in seven innings and matched his career postseason high with 11 strikeouts. As usual, he seemed stronger in the later innings, striking out the side in the sixth and the first two hitters of the seventh. That made up for Coco Crisp's home run that quieted the Comerica Park crowd just one batter into the game.
Joaquin Benoit pitched the eighth and Jose Valverde finished for the save.
Oakland's Jarrod Parker allowed two earned runs in 6 1-3 innings.
Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera went hitless.