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


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.

Young Blue Jays say they aren’t intimidated by top seed Rays

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) When the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays opened the pandemic-delayed season a little over two months ago, there was little to indicate the AL East rivals might meet again to begin the playoffs.

While the Rays launched the truncated 60-game schedule with expectations of making a strong bid for their first division title in a decade, the Blue Jays generally were viewed as an immensely talented young team still years away from postseason contention.

Tampa Bay didn’t disappoint, shrugging off a slow start to go a league-best 40-20 and claim the No. 1 seed in the AL playoffs that begin Tuesday.

Lefty Blake Snell, who’ll start Game 1 of the best-of-three wild-card series against Toronto at Tropicana Field, also isn’t surprised that the eighth-seeded Blue Jays earned a spot, too.

The Rays won six of 10 games between the teams during the regular season, but were outscored 48-44 and outhomered 17-11.

And while Toronto (32-28) lacks the playoff experience Tampa Bay gained last season when the Rays beat Oakland in the AL wild-card game before falling to Houston in the divisional round, the Blue Jays are building with exciting young players such as Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

“They’ve got a lot of young guys who can ball over there,” Snell said. “It’s going to be fun to compete and see how we do.”

Rays defensive whiz Kevin Kiermaier said Tampa Bay, in the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the second time franchise history, will not take the Blue Jays lightly.

“We know we’re playing a real good team,” Kiermaier said. “It’s not going to be easy, regardless of what a team is seeded.”

The Blue Jays, who’ll start right-hander Matt Shoemaker, aren’t conceding anything.

Bichette said he and his teammates respect how good Tampa Bay is, but are not intimidated by facing the No. 1 seed.

“I would say that we didn’t care who we played. I would say that we didn’t mind playing Tampa, that’s for sure. We’re familiar with them. We’ve played them well,” Bichette said.

“I think we’re confident in our ability against them. Our talent matches up well,” Bichette added. “We think if we play well we’ve got a good chance.”


The stands at Tropicana Field will be empty, leaving players to wonder what the atmosphere will be like for the playoffs.

Tampa Bay routinely rank at or near the bottom of the majors in attendance, but usually pack the stands in the domed stadium during the postseason.

“It will be different,” Bichette said. “Normally when you think of your first postseason you think 40,000, you think about not being able to think it’s so loud, stuff like that.”

The Blue Jays open the playoffs near where they hold spring training in Dunedin, Florida. It’s been a winding road for Toronto, which played its home games in Buffalo, New York, at the site of its Triple-A affiliate after the Canadian government barred the Blue Jays from hosting games at their own stadium because of coronavirus concerns.


Tampa Bay’s five-game loss to Houston in last year’s divisional round was a source of motivation during the regular season.

“It definitely lit a fire under everybody. It really showed us we belong. … We gave them a tough series,” second baseman Brandon Lowe said.

“We won the wild-card game. We belong in the postseason. I think that did a lot for us to understand that we should be in the postseason and we can go a lot farther. We know what to expect this time around. I think everyone in our clubhouse expects to be playing until the end of October,” he said.


Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash has the Rays in the playoffs for the second time. His close friend and former Rays third base and bench coach Charlie Montoyo is in his second year as manager of the Blue Jays, who last made the playoffs in 2016.

“Pretty special,” Cash said of his relationship with Montoyo.

“I really learned a lot from him being around him. The way he carried himself. His hand print is throughout this organization,” Cash added. “A pretty big impact and a positive one. … When they clinched I talked to him, we face-timed at 1:30 in the morning. I’m so happy for him.”