Thursday was a great day for sports fans, especially Baltimore natives. The Orioles began their Quest for the Flags (commissioner trophy) with a 12-3 beatdown on the Tigers. We all know that in the postseason its all about pitching, but the best hitting team in baseball put on a clinic against the Tigers. Max Scherzer started on the mound for the Tigers, and for his standards, didn't have a good game. Scherzer gave up 5 runs and 2 home runs in 7 innings of work. Nelson Cruz smacked the first 2 run bomb during the 1st inning and JJ Hardy hit his solo shot in the 7th, his first postseason home run.
The Tigers did return in the 2nd inning with back-to-back home runs from Victor and J.D. Martinez, tying the game at 2. By the 4th inning it look like Scherzer and the Tigers was getting in a groove. He retired 8 straight batters, and had 4 straight 1-2-3 innings. Steve Pearce had a base hit to deep right field but was gunned down at 2nd base . Hardy led off the 7th with his solo bomb, giving the O's a 4-2 lead, but Scherzer struck out the next 3 batters.
In the 8th inning is where things got crazy. Scherzer left the game after he gave up a double to Alejandro De Aza with 1 out, replaced by Joba Chamberlain, who spent 7 years with the Yankees and is very familar with the O's. Joba gave up hits to the first two batter he faced, Adam Jones and Nelson Cruz. Jones' hit wasn't really Joba's fault, short stop, Andrew Romine committed an error on a routine groudball that pretty much opened the flood gates for the rest of the inning. His error allowed De Aza to reach home, giving the O's a 5-3 lead but it didn't end there.
The O's scored 7 more runs in the 8th inning while the Tigers used a total of 4 pitchers to get 3 outs. This is what the O's couldn't do in 2012, where they only scored 15 runs in 6 games. This lineup is without three players, Chris Davis, Manny Machado, and Matt Weiters, but yet they haven't missed a beat. The O's used 12 batters in that inning, going deep into the Tigers bullpen, which already isn't that good. The Tigers will have to rely on their 3 Cy Young winners to go the distance because if its gets to thier bullpen, they'll be in trouble.
Chris Tillman had pretty solid game, going 5 innings and only allowing 2 runs. Tillman had a high number of pitches, 105, because the Tigers' batters were getting long at-bats against him. Long at-bats usually favors the hitter, but Tillman didn't let up with his stuff, only allowing 4 hits on the day and retired 11 straight batters at one point. Plus the O's staff is built around their bullpen, so pulling him after 5 wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Unlike the other teams in the postseason, the O's don't have that one ace that could go 8-9 innings, which can be a downfall, but with our bullpen and active bats, I think they have an edge over the other squads who lack that.