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Orioles 12, Tigers 3: Detroit drops Game 1 of ALDS to Baltimore after bullpen implodes

Max Scherzer settled in after an early deficit in the first, but one mistake in the seventh and an outright collapse of the bullpen choked the life out of a once tight game.

Patrick Smith

The Tigers dropped game one of the American League Division Series to the Orioles in imploding fashion, the bullpen allowing eight runs in the eighth inning en-route to a 12–3 blowout loss. Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and J.D. Martinez each homered, making up all of the Tigers' offense on the board, but poor pitching never gave them a chance to win the game.

Scherzer (L, 0–1) had a bad case of the postseason jitters in the first two innings. When pitching to the Orioles, there are two rules. Whenever possible, don't pitch to Nelson Cruz (particularly in the postseason), and at all times keep the ball inside Camden Yards. Scherzer did neither, giving up a two-run home run to Cruz in the first inning (despite an open first base), followed by an RBI single in which he walked a batter and gave up a hit.

After the single in the second though, Scherzer settled in, retiring the next 12-of-13 batters he faced until the seventh inning when he gave up a leadoff home run to J.J. Hardy. Scherzer went on to strike out the side after the home run, but a one-out double ended his night and he finished with five runs on seven hits allowed, a walk, six strikeouts, two home runs and a hit batter.

While Scherzer's pitch-count was low — only 98 pitches into the eighth inning — his mistakes were costly. It was not the best way for the Tigers to get the postseason underway.

As much as the home runs hurt the Tigers, however, the bullpen made things that much worse. After Scherzer was pulled in the eighth, the bullpen comprised of Joba Chamberlain, Joakim Soria, and Phil Coke combined to allow seven runs on five hits, two walks, and a wild pitch.

What was once a 4–3 close game turned into a blowout for the Orioles by the time the eighth inning was finished and the Tigers' offense was unable to recover. The Orioles finished with 12 runs on 12 hits against Tigers pitching and they committed no errors in the game. There are five games to be played in the series, but the Tigers need to have gotten all of the costly mistakes out of their system in this game. They can't afford another one like this if they're going to stay in it for the long haul.

The Tigers offense had eight hits against the Orioles, including back-to-back home runs by Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez, and a solo home run by Miguel Cabrera, but they couldn't string together much more than that, despite two bases-loaded opportunities in both the fifth and ninth innings. Both came with two outs though and both ended without a runner scoring.

Torii Hunter had a rough night at the plate, finishing 0-for-4 with a strikeout, a groundout that stranded three, as well as grounded-into double play. The double play in the eighth inning loomed large as Cabrera would homer immediately after, which would have at the very least tied the game.

The double play was also partly due to an attempted steal by Ian Kinsler. After the game Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Kinsler was running on his own and he wouldn't have put the sign on in that situation, but he was OK with the call anyway.

"We were able to give (Oriole's starter Chris Tillman) a fight and get him out of there after the fifth. But the bullpen came in and shut the door," Victor Martinez said. "They played better and they hit better than we did, they pitched better than we did."

ROARS:

Victor Martinez/J.D. Martinez: With the Tigers down 2–0 after two innings, Martinez stepped to the plate and crushed a solo home run to deep right field on a 2–2 fastball. Followed up Victor Martinez's home run with a dinger of his own, erasing an early deficit and making it 2–2 in the second inning. (MLB.com video) J.D. Martinez also made a head's up play in the sixth inning with two out. Steve Pearce hit a deep fly ball to left field that bounced off the base of the wall. Martinez fielded it and gunned it to Kinsler, who tagged out Pearce at second, who tried to stretch the single into a double. (MLB.com video)

Miguel Cabrera: After Hunter grounded into a double play in the eighth inning, with two out Cabrera hit a solo home run into right to cut the Orioles' lead to 4–3. (MLB.com video)

HISSES:

Torii Hunter: Ian Kinsler, J.D. Martinez, and several players had great at-bats against Tillman. Hunter was not among them. He struck out in his first at-bat, bunted into a groundout in his next two at-bats, the latter leaving the bases loaded in the fifth inning, and grounded into a double play to finish up a horrible night at the plate.

Andrew Romine: He was the only Tigers batter to finish the night with multiple hits, having two, but Romine made a rare but costly error in the eighth inning, leading to the implosion that followed.

Max Scherzer: Gave up two home runs and had a rough first two outings. Nelson Cruz hit a two-run blast with two outs in the first and J.J. Hardy smoked a leadoff solo shot in the seventh, putting the Tigers behind 4-2. Scherzer was solid in between and he struck out the side after the seventh inning home run, but the damage was done. He gave up a one-out double in the eighth, ending his night after 98 pitches and six strikeouts. The double scored and he ended with five runs allowed on seven hits.

The bullpen: Ausmus brought in three relief pitchers after Scherzer gave up a one-out double in the eighth after what would be a costly error by Romine. What ensued was eight runs on six hits, two walks, a wild pitch, and three doubles. Current status: dumpster fire. Let's hope the Tigers have gotten all of this out of their systems or it's going to be a short postseason.

NOTES::

Rajai Davis was pronounced good to go for Thursday night's game, but by mid-game it was easy to see he was hurting and unable to run the same way. After the game Davis said the injury increasingly bothered him as the weather cooled, but stated he would be ready for Friday's game.

STREAKS AND STATS:

  • The Tigers hit back-to-back home runs in the postseason for the first time since Don Kelly and Delmon Young did it on October 6, 2011 at New York against the Yankees. It was the third time this year they had hit back-to-back homers.
  • Victor Martinez's home run was his fourth postseason homer as the Tigers' designated hitter, passing Delmon Young for most in franchise history.
  • J.D. Martinez became the 10th Tiger to hit a home run in his first postseason game. Hank Greenberg was the first player to do it, and the most recent was Alexis Gomez against the Athletics in 2006.
  • Victor Martinez struck out twice in a game only three times all season and the Tigers were 0–3 in those games. He had two strikeouts Thursday night, giving them an 0–4 record.
  • Miguel Cabrera launched a solo home run in the eighth inning with two outs, giving him nine postseason home runs with the Tigers, which are the most in franchise history.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

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