The Tigers bullpen blows it again: Orioles take a 2-0 lead in the ALDS

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Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Brad Ausmus didn’t get the memo.

For the second straight game he went to Joba Chamberlain and Joakim Soria in the eighth inning. For the second straight game they blew up. The Orioles took advantage of the the Tigers relievers to come from behind to win the game 7-6. Baltimore now possesses a 2-0 lead in the best of five ALDS.

In many ways this was worse than last night’s game, because Ausmus had every reason to avoid Chamberlain and Soria but didn’t. For starters, he saw them pitch the night before and should’ve been worried about what he’d get from them. More importantly, however, Ausmus had just seen Anibal Sanchez pitch the sixth and seventh innings in relief of Justin Verlander. He was fantastic, tossing only 30 pitches, striking out two and allowing no hits or runs. Unless there was something physically wrong with Sanchez, there was no reason to think he couldn’t go at least one more inning, possibly two. He’s a starting pitcher for crying out loud.

But no, Ausmus went with Chamberlain to start the eighth in a 6-3 game. Chamberlain faced four hitters, retiring only one of them, allowing one to score to make it 6-4. Then Ausmus went to Soria, who walked the first man he faced and then allowed pinch-hitter Delmon Young to hit a bases-clearing double on the first pitch he saw. And a good Yom Kippur to you, Mr. Young.

So I guess that didn’t work. Oh well, too bad no one thought that would be a disaster before it unfolded.

Thing is: it probably should’ve been tied 7-7 after all of that, as the Tigers ran themselves out of a potential rally in the top of the eighth when Miguel Cabrera attempted to score all the way from first base on a Victor Martinez double. His third base coach, Dave Clark, didn’t put up the stop sign, causing Cabrera to make the first out of the inning at home plate. The next two batters flied out, either of which would’ve scored Cabrera on a sacrifice.

But I suppose that’s a mere detail here. The real problem was the Tigers bullpen. Again. It’s been a problem all year and even after 164 games Brad Ausmus has not, apparently, figured that out. He has pushed the buttons exactly the way the book says you should, even though his particular book spontaneously combusted some time in May. And even when he had a horse in Anibal Sanchez practically begging him to sit on his hands and let this game play out.

Royals outfielder Gordon to retire after 14 seasons

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Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, the former first-round pick whose rollercoaster career took him from near bust to All-Star and Gold Glove winner, announced Thursday he will retire after the season.

Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft following a standout career at Nebraska, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur in baseball. He made his big league debut two years later and, after a few years shuttling back and forth to the minors, moved from third base to the outfield and finally found success.

He wound up playing his entire 14-year career in Kansas City, joining only George Brett and Frank White as position players with that much longevity with the franchise. He heads into a weekend four-game series against Detroit with the third-most walks (682), fourth-most homers (190), fifth-most doubles (357) and sixth-most games played (1,749) in club history.

The three-time All-Star also holds the dubious distinction of being the Royals’ career leader in getting hit by pitches.

While he never quite hit with the kind of average the Royals hoped he would, Gordon did through sheer grit turn himself into one of the best defensive players in the game. He is the only outfielder to earn seven Gold Gloves in a nine-year span, a number that trails only White’s eight for the most in franchise history, and there are enough replays of him crashing into the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium or throwing out a runner at the plate to run for hours.

Gordon won the first of three defensive player of the year awards in 2014, when he helped Kansas City return to the World Series for the first time since its 1985 championship. The Royals wound up losing to the Giants in a seven-game thriller, but they returned to the Fall Classic the following year and beat the Mets in five games to win the World Series.

It was during the 2015 that Gordon hit one of the iconic homers in Royals history. His tying shot off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 forced extra innings, and the Royals won in 14 to set the tone for the rest of the World Series.

Gordon signed a one-year contract to return this season, and he never considered opting out when the coronavirus pandemic caused spring training to be halted and forced Major League Baseball to play a dramatically reduced 60-game schedule.

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