Things actually started poorly for Verlander, as he gave up a lead-off home run to Athletics outfielder Coco Crisp. But Verlander would settle down after that, giving up only two more hits in his seven innings of work. He did have some issues with his command, but he was able to pitch around four walks.
Detroit quickly answered after the Crisp home run, tying the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the first. The Tigers had an opportunity to have a huge first inning when Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and nobody out, but they managed just the one run after Cabrera grounded into a double play.
Detroit took the lead for good in the fifth inning when Omar Infante scored on an error by Athletics starting pitcher Jarrod Parker. Tigers catcher Alex Avila added an insurance run later in the inning on a home run.
Verlander was relieved by Joaquin Benoit, who nearly gave up Detroit's lead in the eighth inning when Brandon Moss flew out to the warning track with a man on. Tigers closer Jose Valverde shut the door with a perfect ninth inning.
Game 2 of the series is in Detroit on Sunday at 12:07 p.m. ET.