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Orioles 7, Tigers 6: Detroit offense unable to weather another bullpen collapse

Back-to-back home runs put the Tigers in the lead in the fourth inning, but another bullpen episode yanked victory away. The Tigers head home trailing the Orioles 0–2 for the series, in danger of being swept out of the postseason.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

George Santayana, an early 20th century philospher, once said that "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." By remembering the past, lessons are often learned, but in the case of the Tigers bullpen, nothing could be further from the truth. As a result of yet another bullpen implosion, the Tigers lost 7–6 in heartbreaking fashion despite a second straight day of back-to-back home runs.

Justin Verlander was neither lights out nor awful. He was average, on a day when the Tigers needed him to be like his usual postseason-like self. But while he gave up one key hit, a two-run home run in the third inning, he was steady for much of his five innings of work.

Verlander hasn't been himself all season, so to see a five-inning outing isn't surprising. He finished with three runs allowed on six hits, a walk, and four strikeouts, with one batter faced in the sixth inning. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Verlander had told him that he was beginning to tire in the previous inning, which is why Ausmus pulled him.

"I decided before the inning started if the lead‑off hitter got on or any hitter got on during the course of the inning with the information that I had on Verlander and what we had in Sanchez — in terms of wanting to bring him in, but not wanting to bring him in in a sticky situation, that was why I brought him in at that point," Ausmus said.

Anibal Sanchez was light's out for the Tigers. He is and has been the one bright spot in the much maligned Tigers bullpen, despite the fact he's barely been used. After pitching just one inning before the postseason after returning from the disabled list, Sanchez gave the Tigers two shutout innings, striking out two and retiring all six batters faced.

He needed 30 pitches to get through the two innings and he was not laboring at any point during his outing, but Ausmus said after the game 35 pitches would have been pushing the envelope considering Sanchez's limited time on the mound in relief.

"It's more about him not being stretched out," Ausmus said. "He was hurt, what was he out, six weeks and he threw one inning, one simulated game.  Asking him to throw really anything more than 30 pitches is a stretch."

Two massive back-to-back home runs in the fourth inning by both J.D. Martinez and Nick Castellanos gave the Tigers a comfortable lead, scoring five in all. In the eighth inning the Tigers worked a leadoff walk and back-to-back hits by Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez increased the lead. But a rare bad call by third base coach Dave Clark sent Cabrera home and it killed the Tigers scoring opportunities.

The bullpen would finish the job, handing a second straight win to the Orioles and putting their chances to take the ALDS in serious jeopardy. Three hits, a walk and a hit batter, including a pitch by Joakim Soria (L, 0–1) that Delmon Young hit for a bases-clearing double, put the Orioles on top. They would not relinquish the lead and the Tigers now head home needing to win the next three games if they are to advance to the ALCS. If not, it's game over.

"It's certainly a little tough to swallow," Ausmus said. "When you have a three‑run lead going into the last couple of innings, you feel like you should get the job done, but we didn't. There is nothing we can do about it, so we will look forward to Game 3. "

ROARS:

Middle of the order: Nine batters, five straight hits, two home runs, a double, and a stolen base later, the Tigers led 5–2. Miguel Cabrera smoked a double to deep center, just missing a home run. An RBI single by Victor Martinez scored Torii Hunter, who had gotten an overdue hit to leadoff the inning. J.D. Martinez blasted a three-run home run that needed no review, and Nick Castellanos followed with an opposite field first pitch solo shot, giving the Tigers a firm lead at the time. (MLB.com video)

Anibal Sanchez: With a runner on first base and no outs, Sanchez came out to pitch in relief. He retired the Orioles 1-2-3 with just 16 pitches, a strikeout, and no drama. The seventh inning went down the same way with another strikeout, finishing with 30 pitches. With Sanchez's appearances in relief at one before Friday, Ausmus made the right call pulling him after two innings.

Justin Verlander: It wasn't an ideal outing for Verlander, however, Verlander limited the damage and made just one mistake, a pitch that Markakis sent out of the park (barely) for a two-run home run. Other than that, Verlander was solid and when he began to tire in the sixth inning, Ausmus rightfully pulled him.

HISSES:

Umpire's strike zone: It was a paint-by-the-numbers strike zone. Pitches that were outside of the strike zone were called strikes, although Verlander was able to take advantage of the poor zone at times. Still, it cost the Tigers some outs, getting cheated on calls for the second straight day.

Dave Clark: He's rarely noticed, which is a good thing. He's rarely made a bad call to send a runner home and last Sunday his aggressiveness paid off for the Tigers. Friday though, Clark sent Cabrera home and it cost the Tigers what would be at least the run to keep the game tied when the bullpen imploded again.

Tigers batters 7–1: Combined, the Tigers batters comprised of Alex Avila, Andrew Romine, Rajai Davis, Ezequiel Carrera (who replaced Davis), and Ian Kinsler, were just 1-for-16 with one single and a stolen base. They also struck out five times.

The bullpen (except Sanchez): Needing to get the job done with a slim lead, Joba Chamberlain came on in the eighth inning and disappointed once again. He was followed by Joakim Soria and the two combined to allow four runs on three hits, one being a bases-clearing double by Delmon Young. The Tigers entered the inning with a 6–3 lead, and they finished the eighth trailing 7–6. It would be their final score.

Brad Ausmus: After making a brilliant move to take Verlander out of the game at the first sign of trouble, replacing him with Sanchez, Ausmus reverted back to his old ways. After two innings of a light's out performance, Sanchez was replaced by Chamberlain in the eighth regardless of recent events, followed by Soria when Chamberlain couldn't get it done. As a result, the Tigers lost. Ausmus said he didn't go with Al Alburquerque in the eighth because he's generally reserved for the earlier innings, with Soria, Chamberlain, and Nathan in the late innings.

NOTES::

In the top of the fourth inning, Rajai Davis hit a two-out single to the deep left field corner. He was not running fast and upon reaching first base was paid a visit by Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand and Ausmus. Davis was pulled from the game and Ezequiel Carrera pinch-ran for him, stealing second base soon after. Davis was listed as day-to-day with tightness.

"(Davis) said it tightened up coming down the line out of the box," Ausmus said. "He said it tightened up. I'm assuming it's something he did, but we will continue to treat him and hope he can play on Sunday."

In the third inning, umpires initiated a review of a home run ball hit by Nick Markakis to right field. After review, the call stood, giving the Orioles a 2–0 lead at the time. As the review was an umpire-initiated review, Ausmus, who had asked the umpires to review the home run call, did not lose a challenge.

STREAKS AND STATS:

  • J.D. Martinez became the first player in franchise history to hit a home run in each of his first two career postseason games. J.D. Martinez is also the first player in the majors to homer in each of his first two career postseason games since Paul Goldschmidt did it with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011.
  • Nick Castellanos' home run was hit on the first pitch. In the regular season, eight of Castellanos' home runs came on the first pitch.
  • Victor Martinez struck out in the fifth inning, the third time he's been struck out in two days. The last time Martinez struck out three times in the course of two days was back on July 18–19. He struck out just three times in the month of September.
  • Torii Hunter broke an 0-for-8 streak with a leadoff single in the fourth inning.
  • Justin Verlander faced 83 batters without a walk before he walked Jonathan Schoop, who had a .244 on-base percentage in the regular season.
  • After just two games, the 11 runs allowed by the Tigers bullpen are already the fourth-most in league division series history.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

ROLL CALL:

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TOP TEN COMMENTERS:

# Commenter # Comments
1 Alex Baker 81
2 mrsunshine 59
3 FrogTownFan 58
4 Cabbylander 58
5 JWurm 53
6 NCDee 53
7 IowaLion 47
8 JoeK5 44
9 ahtrap 43
10 jgrubbs 37



TOP RECS:

# Recs Commenter Comment Link
8 Alex Baker I haven't seen a homer that epic
7 jgrubbs I love Tigers runs
7 subic sailor Holy Cow 111-2 When JV gets 5+ runs
4 Alex Baker we got a 1-2-3 inning?
4 mrsunshine woah, calm down a bit
4 dand3 2012?
4 NCDee OMG Camden Fans
4 FrogTownFan Be good Verlander.