The Baltimore Orioles take a 1-0 lead in the ALDS against the Detroit Tigers with 12-3 win, as Chris Tillman pulled himself out of a big jam to inspire a huge, 8-run eighth inning after the game kicked off with three home runs in the first couple of innings. Max Scherzer, unlike the pitcher he was dueling with, eventually lost control.
The Tigers were the big hitting team going into this game, but the Orioles have a scary lineup, scoring more runs than anyone in Baseball this season. It might not have always come with power this season, but it did the job, as the talk about having a dangerous lineup from 1-through-9 came true, and the dominance the Tigers had in the regular season against Baltimore was a thing in a forgotten, recent past.
The biggest moment of the game came in the top of the fifth. The Tigers had the bases loaded and Torri Hunter was up to bat. Chris Tillman, who didn’t have the smoothest of starts to the game, managed to force him into grounding out, and that changed everything about this game. Even though each team plays offense and defense when their turn comes up, there’s an aura of which team is on the offensive at the moment and which one is just hanging on to dear life. The Orioles made that switch with that out and never looked back.
That was it for Tillman in the game, who ended up with the win. After him came Andrew Miller who didn’t just hold on to the lead, but was almost perfect in 1.2 innings, striking out three batters, walking one and not allowing a hit. The Tigers did get four hits after Miller came off, but the momentum had swung and wasn’t coming back. After some tense moments against the big hitters the Tigers have, the Orioles felt nothing was going to catch them in this game.
It came to the 7th inning and J.J. Hardy hitting a home run off of Scherzer. Scherzer was the ace who didn’t disappoint this season unlike Justin Verlander, but things fell apart for him in the end of this game, not making it out of the eighth inning. Miguel Cabrera answered the Hardy home run with one of his own in the 8th to make it 4-3, but then came the complete collapse, as Scherzer lost control and was followed by Joba Chamberlain, who didn’t record a single out in his attempt to put a finger in the crumbling dam.
An error scored Adam Jones, giving the Orioles a 5-3 lead. They would go on to score eight runs in the eighth inning, with the Tigers going through Chamberlain, Joakim Soria and Phil Coke, making it four different pitchers in one inning responsible for losing the game. The loss obviously goes to Scherzer, but the Tigers’ worried about their bullpen not being up to the task in close games got a confirmation about how this series might be if they don’t score enough runs early on.
The Orioles finished with 12-of-35 at the plate and got three walks. Nelson Cruz had three RBIs, including hitting his 15th postseason home run, tied for 10th all-time with Babe Ruth. They were clutch with 6-for-11 with Runners in scoring positions. They only left three men on base all game long. They did everything right, and didn’t have a rival to rise up to their challenge. It’s still two more wins away, but the Orioles couldn’t have asked for a better start.