Nelson Cruz drove in three runs and Brad Ausmus’ bullpen melted down as the Orioles defeated the Tigers 12-3 tonight in Game 1 of the ALDS at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
You wouldn’t know it by the final score, but this was actually a pretty close game until the Orioles poured it on late. Cruz, who led the majors with 40 homers during the regular season, got the Orioles on the board first with an opposite-field two-run blast off Max Scherzer in the bottom of the first inning. However, the Tigers quickly responded in the top of the second, as Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez connected for solo home runs against Chris Tillman to tie things up. The Orioles then took the lead right back in the bottom of the second with an RBI single from Nick Markakis.
Tillman’s pitch count climbed quickly, mostly by throwing 30 pitches to Ian Kinsler over three at-bats, so he only lasted five innings. He wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in his final frame. Orioles manager Buck Showalter then turned to Andrew Miller, who got five big outs before giving way to Darren O’Day to finish off the top of the seventh. J.J Hardy added an insurance run on a solo homer in the bottom of the seventh before Miguel Cabrera responded with a solo homer of his own to bring the Tigers within one run. After Cabrera’s homer, Showalter brought on his closer Zach Britton, who got Victor Martinez to ground out to end the top of the eighth. That’s when things got out of hand.
Scherzer was pulled after a one-out double in the bottom of the eighth before the Orioles put the game out of reach by scoring eight runs against the much-maligned Tigers’ bullpen. They brought 12 men to the plate on six hits, two errors, and two walks. With the luxury of a big lead, Showalter brought on Tommy Hunter to get the final three outs.
By scoring 12 runs, the Orioles set a new playoff club record. Cruz now has 15 home runs and 30 RBI in 35 career postseason games.
The Tigers don’t have long to recover from this one, as Game 2 of the ALDS will begin at 12:07 p.m. ET tomorrow afternoon. Justin Verlander will start for Detroit while the Orioles will counter with Wei-Yin Chen.