Orioles pour it on late in victory over Tigers in Game 1 of ALDS

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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.

Padres fire Andy Green

Andy Green
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The Padres fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, per an official team release. Bench coach Rod Barajas will step into the position for the remaining eight games of the 2019 season.

Executive Vice President and GM A.J. Preller gave a statement in the wake of Green’s dismissal:

I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.

In additional comments made to reporters, Preller added that the decision had not been made based on the Padres’ current win-loss record (a fourth-place 69-85 in the NL West), but rather on the lack of response coming from the team.

“Looking at the performance, looking at it from an improvement standing, we haven’t seen the team respond in the last few months,” Preller said. “When you get to the point where you’re questioning where things are headed … we have to make that call.”

Since his hiring in October 2015, Green has faced considerable challenges on the Padres’ long and winding path to postseason contention. He shepherded San Diego through four consecutive losing seasons, drawing a career 274-366 record as the club extended their streak to 13 seasons without a playoff appearance. And, despite some definite strides in the right direction — including an eight-year, $144 million pact with Eric Hosmer, a 10-year, $300 million pact with superstar Manny Machado, and the development of top prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — lingering injuries and inexplicable slumps from key players stalled the rebuild longer than the Padres would have liked.

For now, they’ll prepare to roll the dice with a new skipper in 2020, though any potential candidates have yet to be identified for the role. It won’t come cheap, either, as Green inked a four-year extension back in 2017 — one that should have seen him through the team’s 2021 campaign.