The Tigers had run themselves out of innings earlier in the game, so they turned to what has carried them for much of the past seven years - the big fly. Back-to-back home runs off the bats of Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez gave the Tigers their winning margin. Both home runs came off Orioles' closer Tommy Hunter (1-1), who was charged with his third blown save and first loss.
Recipient of an unexpected win was the Tigers' Justin Miller (1-0), who tossed two scoreless innings of one hit relief after taking over from starter Drew Smyly. The win was the first of Miller's career. Joe Nathan pitched the ninth to record his ninth save.
Smyly struggled early, but got stronger as the night went on. He would be pulled after six innings, having allowed just one run and five hits, striking out seven.
Hunter's implosion cost Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez his third win. Jimenez held the Tigers to three hits over seven innings, striking out seven.
The Orioles actually out hit the Tigers on the night, 7-6. But the Tigers out-homered the Orioles 2-1, which was the difference in the game.
The Tigers doubled their hit count in the ninth inning with three, the biggest obviously being the Cabrera's three run shot and Martinez's solo homer. Both had two hits and a run scored, Cabrera topping Martinez three RBIs to one.
The lone O's score came in the bottom of the first inning on Adam Jones' solo home run.
I should never be surprised by the Tigers, but that win came out of nowhere! Not to be forgotten are the contributions which allowed Cabrera and Martinez to do their thing.
Alex Avila beat the shift with an opposite field lead off single. Rajai Davis stole second, replay coming to the rescue to correctly overturn an out call. Torii Hunter redeemed an earlier base running gaffe with a hard fought two out walk. All of which extended the inning, which got Cabrera to the plate.
And you know what happened from there.
Trust me, Orioles fans will never forget.
Drew Smyly easily retired the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the first, but fell behind Adam Jones 3-1. Smyly's fifth pitch was an inside fastball which Jones turned on, yanking a line drive to left which just stayed fair, landing in the first row of seats. Jones' fifth home run of 2014 gave the Orioles their second 1-0 lead in the series.
Ubaldo Jimenez had little trouble over the first two innings, allowing only a single to Victor Martinez. He was quickly eliminated on a strike 'em out - throw 'em out play with Austin Jackson being the strikeout part.
Bottom of the second, Tigers' nemesis Nelson Cruz led off the inning with a line drive directly at J.D. Martinez, who got the start over the badly scuffling Rajai Davis. Martinez the younger broke in on the ball, taking either a Raburn-ed, Boesch-ian, Berry-esque (take your pick) style route on a liner over his head. The ball bounced into the left field stands for a ground rule double. (Get well soon, Andy Dirks!)
Smyly would walk Jonathan Schoop with two down before getting out of difficulty on Caleb Joseph's ground ball to Nick Castellanos. But Smyly's pitch count took a hit, now 43 over two innings.
While the Tigers could do little against Jimenez through three innings despite his penchant for three-ball counts, a struggling Smyly was again pitching himself into a jam and elevating his pitch count even further. This time it was thanks to a one out Manny Machado walk and Jones single. Smyly was losing the battle with his command, as a two down walk Cruz loaded the bases for J.J. Hardy.
Hardy flipped a two strike bloop toward center with base hit written all over it. But Jackson raced in, rescuing Smyly with a marvelous shoestring catch, saving two runs and ending the inning.
Top of four was more of the same for Detroit. Miguel Cabrera singled, only to be eliminated on the second inning ending strike 'em out - throw 'em out play (Martinez the elder whiffing this time) in three innings.
RT @blessyouboys: Strike 'em out, throw 'em out seems a lot more exciting when your team is pitching.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 14, 2014
Smyly's fourth was his first without a high leverage situation, though he still allowed a base runner. Joseph singled for his first career big league hit with two out, but a slumping Markakis struck out.
Regardless of the relatively easy inning, Smyly remained on the "pulled after five to six innings" track thanks to his pitch count of 81. Meanwhile, Jimenez was barely breaking a sweat in the bottom half of the inning, the Tigers going down in order on five measly pitches, allowing the O's starter to get his pitch count back on track at 71. The Indians' refugee had faced only one over the minimum thanks to Detroit's slowest runners having been caught stealing.
It's the sign of a good pitcher when he can keep his team in the game without having his best stuff. Smyly was doing just that, actually retiring the Orioles in order for the first time ... though he needed defense help from an unexpected source.
Jones had hit Smyly hard all night, and did so again with one out in the fifth. But this time Martinez the younger read the ball of the bat correctly, robbing Jones of extra bases with a lunging, running catch on the left field waring track.
The Tigers' offense couldn't have looked more feeble in the sixth, Jimenez striking out the side. Alex Avila and Andrew Romine went down with the bat on their shoulders, Ian Kinsler swinging.
It took several innings for Smyly to settle in, but by the time his pitch count was pushing 100, he had done just that. After Hardly flew out with the bases loaded to end the third, Smyly retired nine of the last ten batters he faced.
His second consecutive 1-2-3 inning, retiring the side in order in the sixth, ended Smyly's night after 106 pitches.I don't know how he did it, but Smyly dodged a ton of bullets while keeping the Tigers within a run of the Orioles.
The Tigers ran themselves out of a possible rally in the top of the seventh. To be more accurate, Torii hunter ran the Tigers out of a possible rally.
Hunter led off with a single, taking second on Cabrera's four pitch walk. Just as it appeared the Tigers might have Jimenez on the ropes, Hunter took off for third on a pitch in the dirt which barely rolled more than a bat's length from the plate. Joseph was surprised by the fact Hunter was running, but still fired a throw to third, easily nailing him for the first out.
Martinez the elder then bounced into a double play, a promising inning having gone up in smoke.
Live by aggressiveness, die by aggressiveness. The Tigers were in the death throes.
not good RT @Chris_Iott: Tigers have had five runners: 1. CS 2. Stranded 3. CS 4. Thrown out trying to advance 5. Erased on double play— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 14, 2014
Bullpen roulette began with the first contestant, Justin Miller, taking over in the seventh. He allowed a lead off single to Schoop, which led to thinking the worst was going to happen.
Instead, Miller would retire the next three Orioles in order (helped by a free out on a sacrifice) stranding Schoop at third.
Jimenez was done was after seven shutout innings, replaced by Darren O'Day. Nothing changed, in that the Tigers went down in order, two via strikeout.
Bottom of eight, Miller retired the side in order. In Miller (who turned out to be only bullpen roulette participant), the bullpen had done their job.
But could the offense? They were down to their final three outs against Orioles' closer Tommy Hunter.
Leading off, Avila singled, beating the shift by hitting a ground ball where the third baseman would normally be stationed. Avila was replaced by pinch-runner Rajai Davis.
The count 1-1 on pinch-hitter Don Kelly, Davis took off. Joseph's throw arrived on one hop, Schoop applying the tag as Davis was getting his hand on the bag on what was a bang-bang play. The call? Out! But there was going to be a challenge, the Dartmouth Man doing just that.
The Tigers were bailed out by the replay, which showed Davis did get his hand in before the tag for his 13th stolen base of the season. The Tigers had finally stolen a base ... though there's a big difference between Davis running and Martinez/Cabrera lumbering.
But Kelly's looping liner was right to Hardy at short for the first out.
Update: It seems Don Kelly CAN be stopped— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 14, 2014
Kinsler hit the ball on the nose, and Jones almost misplayed it, but in the end it was just the second out.
That fittingly left it up to Hunter, who ran the Tigers out of the seventh and was on Orioles fan's list. In a nice at bat, Hunter extended the inning by working a full count base on balls.
Enter Miguel Cabrera.
Exit one baseball.
The count 1-0, Cabrera got all of a breaking ball which was right down the middle, launching a fly ball which just kept carrying to left center. All Jones could do was watch as the ball landed in the Orioles' bullpen as the ball sailed over the wall.
HOME RUN CABRERA CA BOOM AHHH— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 14, 2014
Two down and down a run, Cabrera had given the Tigers their first lead of the game at 3-1 with his sixth home run of the season (MLB.com video).
The crowd still in an uproar over Cabrera's two out, three run bomb Martinez the elder turned on a 96 MPH Hunter fastball, sending a no-doubt shot deep into the night, the ball landing somewhere near the Atlantic
BACK TO BACK JACKS— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 14, 2014
Martinez's ninth big fly of the season landed on Eutaw Street, increasing the Tigers' lead to 4-1 (MLB.com video).
Hunter was mercifully pulled after back-to-back gut punches. Preston Guilmet got the final out of the inning ... two batters too late for the O's.
In little more than the blink of an eye, the Tigers had gone from being sure losers to handing the ball to Joe Nathan.
Nathan did allow a one out single to Steve Pearce. Before anyone could get nervous, Nathan induced Shoop to bounce into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Your final score is Miguel Cabrera 3, Victor Martinez 1, Orioles 1.
Kurt was running @BlessYouBoys tonight and summed the game up thusly:
So basically tonight was why baseball is awesome.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 14, 2014
Orioles fans would disagree.
Getaway Day has a former top pitching prospect who lived up his billing and then some in Justin Verlander, facing the Orioles' top pitching prospect in hard-throwing right-hander Kevin Gausman.
Gausman was ranked the number ten prospect overall in MLB by Baseball Prospectus coming into this season. The 23-year-old has spent a good deal of this season on the minor league disabled list with pneumonia, recently being deemed healthy enough to return. In 26 innings for Triple-A Norfolk, Gausman is 0-1 with a 2.08 ERA. He spent two stints for a total of 20 games (five of this starts) and 47 2/3 innings with the O's in 2013, posting a 3-5 record, 5.66 ERA and 3.77 K/BB ratio.
Verlander has never lost at Camden Yards, owning a 6-0 record with a 2.29 ERA in seven career starts. The Tigers' ace is coming off a loss against the Twins, despite allowing just two runs while scattering seven hits over seven innings.
Wednesday's first pitch at Oriole Park at Camden Yards is an early one, 12:35 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Meanwhile in Pittsburgh, Jason Grilli has written ... an autobiography? This snippet of a review from SB Nation's Buc's Dugout makes the "book" sound so God awful, it's a must read.
Just My Game is a tour de force of delusional narcissism. The first 15 pages are vain outsider art on par with The Room. Grilli is an angrier, jock-ier Derek Zoolander.
The online reaction to J.D. Martinez creative route in the second inning shows just how bad the Tigers corner outfield defense has been over the past few years. We've seen it all before, and even have terms for it!
@BigAlBYB Not Raburned, didn't hit him in the face. Not Berry'd, awful route yet caught. Not Boesched, not still rolling around out there.— Scott Rogowski (@DNR_Rogo) May 13, 2014
@BigAlBYB And then there's the fledgling "Torii the Explorer" meme. Hasn't quite got off the ground, though.— Robert Tomlinson (@robtoml_statman) May 13, 2014
Drew Smyly wasn't at his sharpest, but is anyone really clamoring for Robbie Ray to remain in the rotation?
if Smyly struggles in this start - continues to, rather - should Ray stay as a starter? Those already saying yes will say it louder— Tom Gage (@Tom_Gage) May 14, 2014
Phil Coke's Brain broke out one his old flow charts, as it needs to be forwarded to Brad Ausmus.
Stay classy, NFL writers!
GFY RT @JasonLaCanfora: Torri Hunter. Your chump mouth is faster than your old ass legs. Sit down— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 14, 2014
For those who don't follow football, Jason La Canfora is a big time NFL pundit who's worked for NFL.com, ESPN and currently for CBS Sports.
Bottom of the eighth, the Tigers had the shift on against Chris Davis. Andrew Romine made a long run to catch a foul pop on the third base side of the field. But he kept running, thinking there were three outs. Justin Miller kept flashing Romine a friendly reminder...
Streaks and stats:
- The Tigers won their seventh straight road game. The seven game road win streak is the longest since June 17-24, 2007.
- Rajai Davis stole his seventh straight base. He's tied for the AL lead with 13.
- Joe Nathan's save was the 350th of his great career
Drew Smyly: It wasn't pretty, but allowing one run over six innings when it's obvious you don't have good stuff is one Hell of an achievement.
Justin Miller: Miller's two scoreless innings turned out to be HUGE
Miguel Cabrera: Cabrera's biggest home run of the season gave the Tigers their most improbable win of the season.
Victor Martinez: If Cabrera stabbed the Orioles, it was Martinez who twisted the knife.
Alex Avila, Rajai Davis and Torii Hunter: Cabrera and Martinez don't get the chance to do their thing without their ninth inning contributions.
Torii Hunter: His boneheaded attempt at trying to advance on a pitch which bounced all of four feet away from the catcher turned a possible seventh inning rally into another scoreless inning. For a supposedly wise, veteran player, Hunter makes more than his share of fundamental mistakes. But he did make up for it by extending the ninth inning.
The Tigers' base running: Two caught stealing and Hunter's silly decision played a great deal into Jimenez facing only ONE over the minimum in seven innings. Who knew it would take the AL's leading base stealer to actually steal a base?
The Tigers' offense: You aren't going to beat anyone with four hits. The Tigers have just nine base hits in the two games at Camden Yards NEVER MIND.
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TOP TEN COMMENTERS:
|# Recs||Commenter||Comment Link|
|22||NCDee||No, he's not of this world, Austin.|
|12||jgrubbs||Today's game summary|
|11||NCDee||My goodness that was satisfying baseball!|
|3||SpartanHT||Victor has more HRs than strikeouts again|
|3||SpartanHT||WHAT A WIN|
GAME 34 PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Ian Kinsler and Rick Porcello had excellent games, but Kinsler's reaching base three times and hitting a home run narrowly topped Porcello's six innings of one hit ball. Kinsler wins by the narrowest of margins, 40% - 39%.