10/06/12 11:34 PM ET
Berry gets two hits, a steal in first postseason game
By Anthony Odoardi / MLB.com
"I definitely wasn't locked in, thinking I had a starting role in tonight's game," Berry said. "I thought I might have a chance and once I was I had to let everybody know that I was going to be in there."
He definitely let everybody know.
The 27-year-old rookie left his imprint in Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the A's on Saturday as he became the first Tigers rookie since Matty McIntyre in the 1908 World Series opener to notch two hits and a stolen base in his first playoff game.
"I'll take that little stat home," said Berry with a laugh.
It was Berry's second hit in the third inning that proved to be perhaps the most important in the game. Facing A's right-hander Jarrod Parker, he hit a well-placed grounder between Parker and first baseman Brandon Moss.
The pair both swarmed the ball, leaving first base open. And Parker, not seeing Moss in front of him, scooped the ball, but it fell out of his glove past first base, allowing Omar Infante to score the go-ahead run from second base.
"I just saw Moss hanging back a little bit, and then he tried to shoot for the bag," Berry said. "I thought if he collected the ball I had a chance to beat the pitcher or him back to the base, and then all of a sudden the pitcher is able to get to it before he was. He tried to scoop it and it just didn't work out.
"Once he threw it, I turned around and looked back and saw [Infante] was going home. So, we'll take them runs however we can get them."
In a game like Saturday night's -- where the teams are locked in a pitcher's duel and whoever can scratch the most runs across the plate wins -- it was a crucial play.
And it can be credited to Berry's speed as much as the A's error. After racing to first, he proceeded to steal second base, moving to a perfect 22-for-22 on the season.
"That's why he's been in there," manager Jim Leyland said after the game. "He's really given us a little life and a little spark. So he did a good job tonight, as did all the guys."
"He puts a lot of pressure on the opposing team, especially when he gets on base," center fielder Austin Jackson said. "He's a tough guy to throw out when he's stealing. He plays good defense, he's putting the ball in play and using his legs, he's really good."
For Berry, it's not necessarily the first hit or his second game-changing play that he'll remember. It's running out onto the field for his first time with a sold out crowd a Comerica Park screaming and waving their white towels.
"It was a dream come true," Berry said. "Something I've gotten the opportunity to see and I've wanted to be here every year for a long, long time. And to be able to be a part of the puzzle, or a piece that can help, it's a good thing. I appreciate every minute of it."
Anthony Odoardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.