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(Reuters) – The Oakland Athletics and Detroit Tigers are going all-out in the final game of this American League Division Series, with their respective starters facing off in a do-or-die matchup that will determine who advances to the ALCS from their American League Championship Series.
Starters Jon Lester of the Tigers and Sonny Gray of the Athletics are one win from each team’s first appearance in the ALCS, where each will match up against American League Championship Series winner Houston.
Gray was named the A’s starter on Friday, as both team’s off days from the ALCS and ALDS had passed.
Lester, the Boston Red Sox’s reigning AL Cy Young winner and winner of the All-Star Game MVP award last year, staked the ALDS-opening win over the Indians on Thursday night, going seven innings, giving up just three hits and striking out seven in a 1-0 victory.
Gray beat Lester by a score of 6-2 in Game 1.
Porcello made just one appearance in the ALDS, in relief of Lester in Game 3, giving up one run and striking out four over two innings while facing the minimum through four innings in an eventual 13-2 win.
On Friday, Gray got the win with a seven-inning, two-run outing against Cleveland, the ninth shutout for the Tigers on the season. His six strikeouts were a career high, and he didn’t allow a base runner until Cleveland went ahead 3-2 in the fifth inning.
Gray was 3-3 in eight playoff starts this season before the A’s made him their fifth starter.
He came into the postseason after going 10-5 with a 3.21 ERA in his previous 23 starts, as he finished the season with a 7-5 record and a 2.81 ERA in 26 games.
Gray, too, got off to a strong start in the postseason, going 4-1 with a 2.31 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings.
But Gray, who has a 3.23