The Oakland A's were dominated by Detroit Tigers' ace Max Scherzer in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, but fans said they were optimistic rookie Sonny Gray will lead Oakland to victory in Game 2 Saturday night.
Bouncing back from Friday's 3-2 loss, and evening the series, will be no small task. Gray and the A's will have to get past the 2011 AL Cy Young Winner Justin Verlander, who posted a 3.46 earned run average and a 13-12 record with 217 strikeouts in the regular season.
The first pitch of Game 2 is expected just after 6 p.m., but the parking lot started filling up as early as noon with tailgaters. 48,000 fans are expected at the O.co Coliseum Saturday night to cheer on the A's as they face Detroit, the same team that took them out of the postseason last year.
Despite facing a tough right-hander in Verlander, A's fans said they have faith the team will come back Saturday night and even the series.
"No way. No way. We're going to win this one," A's fan Delores Chavarria said.
Other fans said they have grander visions in store for the A's.
"We're going all the way," A's fan Arnold Alvarez said. "One game is not bringing us down."
Fans also said they are excited the A's got home field advantage and will do their part by cheering even louder for them in Game 2 than they did Friday night.
The A's are trusting rookie Gray to give the fans a reason to cheer. He will be making the biggest start of his life since the 2011 College World Series.
Although this is Gray's first postseason start, and just the sixth rookie in Oakland history to start a playoff game, he is ready for the challenge at hand.
“I’m sure (Saturday) is going to be exciting and there will be adrenaline going,” Gray said. “Just to harness that and use it to my advantage is probably going to be a key to the game.”
Gray also said he has fond memories of the pitcher he is opposing in Game 2.
“It seemed to be that he was the only guy people were talking about,” Gray said. “I remember we were at some restaurant on the road and just watching him pitch and watching him throw 100 miles an hour in the ninth inning.”
Gray was 5-3 with a 2.67 ERA in the regular season.