By Eduardo A. Encina
The Baltimore Sun
7:36 PM EDT, June 19, 2013
DETROIT – The Orioles can boast about a number of impressive offensive displays this season, but their assault on Detroit Tigers pitching Wednesday afternoon at Comerica Park was unrivaled.
In their 13-3 thumping of the Tigers, the Orioles set a season-high in runs, the most they’ve scored since August 10, 2010, which was during Buck Showalter’s first week on the job as Orioles manager.
Every Orioles starter had a hit, with home runs provided by the most likely (major league home run leader Chris Davis hit two) and unlikely (reserve catcher Taylor Teagarden had a three-run shot) heroes.
And against a Detroit pitching staff that has allowed the fewest homers in the big leagues, the Orioles connected for for five homers the past two games on their way to taking two of three here.
The Orioles (42-31), now a season-high 11 games over .500, earned their 16th series win, most in the major leagues. After placing an emphasis on winning series, the Orioles have lost just one of their past 10 series and have won six of their past seven.
“I think we are doing a lot of things right,” said Davis, whose two homers Wednesday increased his major league-leading total to 26. “We are throwing the ball really well, getting some timely hits and scoring some runs. And obviously the defense has been huge as well. I think as a whole, we are playing really well right now.”
The Orioles, who won the regular season series against Detroit, 4-2, also earned their 22nd road win of the season, most in the American League, before trekking to Toronto for a welcome day off Thursday.
“Our guys grind them good,” Showalter said. “I think we’re through playing those guys, hopefully. You never look forward to playing [the Tigers]. Our guys presented themselves well and have a well-deserved off day in Canada tomorrow.”
Davis, who made his first start as the designated hitter this season, tied a season high with five RBIs. He also drove in five in the Orioles’ home opener April 5 against the Minnesota Twins.
Davis hit his first homer of the day in the fourth, a two-run shot that came when Davis swatted at a first-pitch 90-mph fastball from right-hander Rick Porcello (4-4) and took it the opposite way. In the top of the ninth, Davis hit a towering two-run shot off displaced closer Jose Valverde in a four-run inning.
It marked Davis’ fifth career multi-homer game and his second this season. He also hit a pair against the Washington Nationals on May 29.
Davis became the fastest Oriole to reach the 26-homer mark, doing it in the team’s 73rd game. Brady Anderson, who hit a club-record 50 home runs in 1996, hit his 26th homer in the Orioles’ 74th game.
Backup catcher Taylor Teagarden, who missed five weeks with a dislocated left thumb, was another story Wednesday. He had just one hit in 24 at-bats this season before smacking a three-run homer off Porcello to cap a six-run fourth inning for the Orioles.
Dating back to August 19, 2010, Teagarden has hit just three big league homers — two of them have come against the Tigers, including a two-run walk-off homer in the 13th inning last July 14 in his first game in an Orioles uniform.
“It feels great,” Teagarden said. “It makes me feel like Adam Jones for an inning or two. I’m just driving in runs and helping the team win. There [are] obviously superstars on this team, but there are guys who want to help the team out every chance they get, so to get a hit like that, it means the world.”
The Orioles, who sent 10 batters to the plate in the fourth, tied season highs in runs (six) and hits (seven) in an inning in that frame. The Orioles' 17-hit outburst marked the fifth time in the past eight games that they’ve had 10 or more hits, something they’ve done an AL-best 36 times this season.
The offensive outburst came after came after the Orioles scored all their runs off homers against Justin Verlander in their 5-2 win over the Tigers on Tuesday night (Adam Jones hit a three-run homer and J.J. Hardy a two-run shot).
“Usually, you walk in the locker room and you know when things are presenting themselves well and things are going [well],” Showalter said. “There’s just an aura and feel in the locker room, and our guys have carried that since the first day of spring training. This is hard to do. It’s hard to do. Most times or not, they give us a chance to win. It’s fun to be around them. I’m proud of them.”
The Orioles beat Porcello for the fifth time in six decisions. Porcello, who allowed six runs — his second-most this season — on nine hits over six innings, hasn’t beaten the Orioles since August 6, 2009. He had turned in four straight quality starts before Wednesday.
Despite battling a high pitch count, Orioles starter Chris Tillman (8-2) continued his success on the road, winning his fourth straight start and fifth straight decision.
Five of the first nine Tigers batters reached base against Tillman, who threw 47 pitches after just two innings. But he dodged major damage, allowing just one run — on Omar Infante’s RBI double in the fourth — through his first five innings of work.
Tillman — who finished with three runs allowed on seven hits — improved his record on the road this season to 6-0 with a 2.76 ERA. The right-hander has made 12 consecutive road starts in which he’s allowed three or fewer runs, tied with Detroit’s Max Scherzer and the Los Angeles Dodger’ Clayton Kershaw for the longest active streak in the majors.
Tillman left in the sixth leading 6-1 with two on and no outs, but both runs scored when pinch hitter Matt Tuiasosopo hit a bases-clearing double into the gap in left-center off reliever T.J. McFarland. The Orioles dodged further damage when Hardy made a heady defensive play, taking a grounder at short and throwing to third to get Tuiasosopo to erase the lead runner.
“Too many pitches early [and] late,” Tillman said. “I struggled to get ahead and when I did I struggled staying ahead. … Results-wise at the end of the day, a win is a win. A good team win today. I should have been better, but at the same time you have to be happy to come out of Detroit winning the series. These guys have got a good lineup and we know that. It was a grind for me today. No breaks today.”
Orioles relievers held the Tigers (39-31) scoreless after the sixth. McFarland worked two innings, and Pedro Strop and Freddy Garcia each pitched a scoreless inning.
Davis, who drove in a third run on the day with a seventh-inning double, now has 66 RBIs on the season, just five behind Tigers slugger and reigning Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera.
Adam Jones drove in three runs and extended his hit streak to eight games. Leadoff hitter Nate McLouth had three hits and scored twice.
“We are kind of the king of playing close games,” Davis said. “Anytime you can go out there and put up a bunch of runs, it takes some pressure off your pitching staff and lets everybody breathe a little easier.”
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