* Detroit Tigers Joba Chamberlain was cheered when he headed to the mound in the eighth inning. He tipped his cap to Baltimore Orioles fans. He didn’t tip it when he left after he faced four hitters and retired only one as the Detroit bullpen imploded again.
By Bob Elliott
BALTIMORE _ Reduced to its simplest terms, Baltimore Orioles Adam Jones and Jonathan Schoop combined on a relay to throw out a runner at the plate in the top of the eighth with NONE out.
Given the same chance Detroit Tigers shortstop Andrew Romine’s throw was up the first-base line as the winning run scored.
As the Tiger bullpen imploded again the O’s defence contributed in an 8-7 win before 48,050 fans at Camden Yards Friday afternoon for a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five, American League Division Series. Game 3 goes Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park in Detroit.
“We practice that all spring, but if you don’t know where the cut-off man is you shouldn’t be playing,” said Jones. “They score there, they’re up four, none out, two innings to go. We stress accuracy even playing catch.”
Watching from the other dugout was Rajai Davis. He described Jones’ throw to Schoop as perfect … “he didn’t move left or right. If he moves our guy is taking more steps. It was exactly what they needed.”
In what was far from the Tigers third base coach Dave Clark got a greedy on Victor Martinez’s drive to centre, waving gimpy Miguel Cabrera home. Schoops’s relay easily cut down Cabrera.
So the O’s were down 6-3 — not 7-3 or worse, entering the eighth — when reliever Joba Chamberlain entered with orange and black-clad O’s fans cheering him. We haven’t heard an audience as appreciative for an opposing reliever since Atlanta Braves Jeff Reardon entered Game 3 of 1992 World Series at SkyDome against the Blue Jays. (Candy Maldonado singled for a 3-2 win and the Jays led 2-1.)
Chamberlain hit Jones and gave up back-to-back singles to score a run. Joakim Soria, a Game 1 arsonist, walked J.J. Hardy loading the bases and then allowed a first-pitch double to pinch hitter Delmon Young to left, clearing the bases.
Romine had a shot at Hardy but his throw was wide right. Or left … depending upon your point of view.
“Defence wins and loses,” said O’s closer Zach Britton, who shut down the Tigers 1-2-3 on 11 pitches for the save. “We like the challenge.”
Maybe if Schoop throws the ball to the screen, Cabrera is safe and the Tigers score more, their bullpen still blows it … but as it was two relays to the plate were made in the eighth attempting to cut down runners. The O’s executed. The Tigers did not.
Detroit with its $163.6 million US team payroll, has a bullpen consisting of relievers who pitch as if they were signed out of Florida Fantasy camp for 50 year-olds and up.
Eight in the eight in Game 1, Four allowed in Game 2.
Big, Don’t Mean Dallas: When the leaves turn brown Delmon will be around. Young is in his sixth consecutive post-season (two years with the Minnesota Twins, two with the Tigers, one with Tampa Bay and now the O’s). He showed in mini-camp in January basically to try out. And there he was with the big blow.
“Delmon has a good pedigree,” Showalter told reporters. “People forget he turned 29. He had a lot of “want to” and wanted to re-establish himself. We had a good talk about we can provide opportunity, but he’s got to go jump through the door and bring the things that we’re in need. He has.”
The Big 10: Up 2-0 in the fourth O’s lefty Wei-Yin Chen saw his lead gone in 10 pitches as …
Torii Hunter singled to centre on an 0-1 pitch.
Cabrera doubled off the centre field fence on the first pitch, chasing Hunter to third.
Victor Martinez lined a 3-1 single to left, scoring Hunter.
J.D. Martinez hit a three-run homer to left on the first pitch.
And Nick Castellanos tagged a first-pitch homer to right.
Of course there may have been an indication the Tigers had found their stroke the previous inning. Ian Kinsler lined a ball which Chen didn’t catch … rather the rocket found his glove.
5-4-3: At the risk of never being allowed into Camden Yards again the fifth inning brought back memories of third baseman Brooks Robinson, second baseman Davey Johnson and first baseman Boog Powell. Cabrera lined a ball to the left of third baseman Ryan Flaherty who dove, speared the ball and threw a strike to Schoop, who turned and fired to first baseman Steve Pearce for the slick double play.
In game: Excluding Sanchez, normally a starter, Chamberlain and Soria allowed four runs in one inning for a two game total of 11 runs — 10 earned in 1 2/3 innings for a two-game ERA of 53.99. Ouch … J.D. Martinez, who tied for major-league lead with seven homers in close-and-late situations during the regular season and had a 1.010 OPS, second in AL behind Jose Bautista (1.155) hit a three-run homer in the fourth off Chen … The O’s bullpen — Kevin Gausman, Brad Brach and Britton — pitched 5 1/3 innings allowing one run.
Early hook: Justin Verlander had not allowed an earned run in his three previous American League Division Series starts.
Mind you all were against the Oakland A’s and two were elimination games — the A’s don’t fare that well when it is win or go home.
His string of 26 scoreless came to an end when Baltimore Orioles lead-off man Nick Markakis lined a two-run homer to right.
Six times in his 15 previous post-season starts Verlander has thrown 120 pitches or more. After a Nelson Cruz single six pitches into the sixth, manager Brad Ausmus hooked his former Cy Young award winner for Annibal Sanchez.
Early? Perhaps, but Sanchez pitched two scoreless.
“We talked to (Verlander) after he came out the previous inning and he said he was running low,” Ausmus told reporters. “I didn’t want to bring
Sanchez into in the middle of a briar patch with the bases packed. I decided before the inning started if the lead‑off hitter got on or any hitter got on with the information that I had on Verlander … we had Sanchez.”
Model Kate Upton, wearing sun glasses and a blue Tigers off-the shoulder t-shirt, left three pitches after her boy friend left. Sanchez was lifted after 30 pitches.
“It’s certainly a little tough to swallow. When you have a three‑run lead going into the last couple of innings, you feel like you should get the job done, but we didn’t.
“There is nothing we can do about it, so we will look forward to Game 3.”