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.

Juan Soto steals the show, powering Nationals past Astros 5-4 in World Series Game 1

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Nationals outfielder Juan Soto stole the show on Tuesday night in Houston, going 3-for-4 with a double, a homer, three RBI, and a stolen base to power his team past the Astros 5-4 in Game 1 of the World Series.

The Astros jumped on Max Scherzer for two runs in the bottom of the first inning to open the scoring. Scherzer allowed the first two batters he faced to reach on a single and a walk, then struck out the next two batters before allowing a two-strike, two-out, two-run double to Yuli Gurriel. Given the way Gerrit Cole has pitched all year long, two runs seemed like plenty.

Cole did not have his best stuff on this particular night. Ryan Zimmerman answered with a solo home run to center field with two outs in the top of the second inning, cutting the deficit to 2-1. Juan Soto would absolutely obliterate a Cole offering for a solo homer of his own in the fourth inning, tying the game at two apiece. Soto became the fourth player in baseball history to hit a World Series home run before his 21st birthday.

The Nationals hung a three-spot in the top of the fifth against Cole, putting their first two batters on base thanks to a walk and a single. Adam Eaton brought home the go-ahead run with a line drive single to right field. Soto followed up by scorching a line drive off of the wall in front of the Crawford boxes to plate two more runs, padding the Nats’ lead to 5-2.

The two runs the Astros got in the first inning would be all they would get off of Scherzer, though they did make him labor in every inning. Scherzer ultimately threw 112 pitches over five innings, yielding five hits and three walks with seven strikeouts.

Patrick Corbin worked a scoreless sixth, working around a one-out single. His usage out of the bullpen likely means he starts Game 4, not Game 3. Manager Dave Martinez handed the ball to hard-throwing right-hander Tanner Rainey for the seventh inning, but it didn’t work out. Rainey gave up a leadoff home run to George Springer to make it 5-3. Springer has now homered in five consecutive World Series games, breaking a tie with Reggie Jackson and Lou Gehrig to set a new major league record. Rainey got into yet more trouble, issuing back-to-back one-out walks to Michael Brantley and Alex Bregman, forcing Martinez to use Daniel Hudson a little earlier than anticipated. Hudson, however, was able to wriggle out of danger in the seventh.

Hudson wasn’t as fortunate in the eighth inning as the Astros continued to claw their way back. Pinch-hitter Kyle Tucker led off with a single, advanced to second base on a deep fly ball to center fielder Victor Robles. Springer brought Tucker home on a fly ball to right-center field that bounced high off of the fence, very nearly becoming a game-tying two-run homer. He settled for an RBI double. Hudson got José Altuve to fly out before handing the ball to lefty Sean Doolittle, who got Brantley to line out to end the inning.

In the ninth, Doolittle returned to the bump to close out the game. He struck out Bregman, got Gurriel to fly out to center, and Correa did the same to end the contest. Nationals take Game 1, 5-4 over the Astros, earning their first World Series victory in franchise history.

Cole, by the way, was still able to complete seven innings. The right-hander threw 104 pitches, allowing the five runs on eight hits and a walk with six strikeouts. He allowed more than one run for the first time this postseason, and more than two runs for the first time since August 28 against the Rays. The Astros lost a game he started for the first time since July 12 against the Rangers.

The Nationals, big underdogs entering the World Series, now have a 1-0 series lead over the Astros, successfully vanquishing Cole. The two sides will meet again for Game 2 on Wednesday night. Justin Verlander will oppose Stephen Strasburg.