Five-game series are tight, so it's important more than ever to, as players and coaches say, take care of your business at home. If the Orioles leave for Detroit 1-1, they face the difficult task of having to steal a game at Comerica Park in order to force a deciding fifth game. Even harder: winning both on the road in front of an amped-up Detroit crowd. Now, at 2-0, they have three chances to seal the deal, firmly in control of their own fate. And before a gutsy four-run rally in the 8th inning, there was a very real sense the Birds would be flying to Michigan in an even series.
But the team's mantra of "We Won't Stop" was on full display as they clawed their way back into the game and loaded the bases for Delmon Young, a backup outfielder who's played in a little over half the team's games and has somehow been incredibly clutch as a pinch-hitter, going 10-for-20. So of course it came to Young, batting for third baseman Ryan Flaherty in the 8th inning, with the bases loaded and the Orioles down two runs. The righty laced a hanging Joakim Soria slider down the left field line, scoring Nelson Cruz, Steve Pearce, and a sliding J.J. Hardy who avoided the tag of Tigers catcher Alex Avila by an eyelash.
As has been the case for much of the 2014 season, the Orioles simply found a way to win.
After the game, manager Buck Showalter was asked to explain Young's dominance when summoned off the bench to step into the batter's box.
"There's a drill we do," he deadpanned, before quickly shifting to this explanation: some things are unexplainable.
"Who knows? You don't. You don't know that. That's Delmon. A guy like him, you never preclude him from accomplishing anything. And it's okay for me to say I don't know. I don't know."
Sometimes it's as simple as putting your guys in a position to succeed.
"I mean, he keeps doing it. And we keep giving him the opportunity. That's pretty easy," Showalter continued. "I know conventionality, from what's happened in the past, means that things like that shouldn't happen, but that's why we play the games."
Young was once considered one the top prospects in all of baseball, a so-called five-tool player. He hasn't necessarily lived up to that billing, but as evidenced this year, he's a valuable major league contributor.
"Some of the best baseball players in the world, they don't always follow a pattern," and thank goodness—it'd be pretty boring if they did all the time," the skipper said.
Friday's game was anything but.
Eugenio Suarez grounds out to Hardy to end it. Orioles win 7-6 and take a 2-0 lead in the series!
Britton gets Hernan Perez to ground out and then K's Andrew Romine. Only one out left.
Schoop flies out to end the inning, stranding Young at third base. But what an epic momentum shifter. Closer Zach Britton is coming on to try and finish this one out. 7-6 Orioles in the top of the 9th.
Pinch-hitter Delmon Young clears the bases with a double down the line in left field. 7-6 Orioles. Camden Yards is going absolutely nuts.
Soria walks J.J. Hardy on five pitches. Sacks full. One out. Stop whatever work you're doing and get to a TV.
Pearce knocks a single just out of the reach of Ian Kinsler and into right field. Jones scores and Cruz advances to second. Chamberlain leaves to perhaps one of the loudest cheers of the game. Joakim Soria is taking his place. Tigers lead drops to 6-4.
Cruz singles to left. Orioles Magic possibly in the works.
After a De Aza groundout, Chamberlain hits Adam Jones in the thigh with a fastball, drawing big boos from the crowd. But hey, tha'ts how rallies get started. Cruuuuuuz up now.
Brach gets the job done, inducing two lazy flyouts to Nick Markakis. And the Camden Yards faithful are giving a huge round of applause to... Joba Chamerlain? Yes, fans remember how Chamberlain and his hobo beard fared last night and smelled blood in the water as the righty pitcher made his way on the field. Let's see if the Orioles bats can deliver. De Aza leads off.
Victor Martinez makes the Orioles pay, stroking a double to the gap in right center. There is a silver lining: a nice relay from Jones to Schoop cut down Miguel Cabrera at the plate, limiting the Tigers to one run. Score is 6-3 Tigers now, with a man on second and only one out in the 8th. Brach is on now.
And wouldn't you know it, Gausman finds himself in a bit of trouble here. After walking Hunter on five pitches, Miguel Cabrera laced a single to left. Two on and nobody out. Brad Brach is warming up in the bullpen.
Sanchez is putting in some quality innings of his own. The Tigers' hurler has now pitched two perfect frames in relief. Orioles are running out of outs here. We go to the 8th, still 5-3 Tigers.
Gausman retires the side in the 7th. Dude has been electric. Wouldn't be surprised if he keeps going.
After Cruz gets on with no outs, Sanchez is able to retire Pearce, Hardy, and Flaherty in order. Flaherty had what looked to be some pretty choice words for home plate umpire Scott Barry on a called third strike. On to the 7th, still 5-3 Tigers.
Cruz singles to start off the 6th, and the Orioles have chased Verlander out of the game, who walked back to the dugout to loud cheers of "Hey-ey-ey, goodbye!" Anibal Sanchez on in relief.
Gausman has been absolutely crucial in relief, pitching 2 1/3 scoreless innings and striking out four. That's pretty big, as it means manager Buck Showalter won't have to burn through his bullpen.
Jones hits a lazy pop out in foul territory left of third base. But there is some good news here: Verlander is already up to 94 pitches, meaning the Orioles have a shot at getting into the Tigers bullpen soon.
After a Caleb Joseph fly out, one of the team's most impatient hitters, Jonathan Schoop, works a walk. Markakis put a charge in one to center, but it was caught for an out. De Aza pokes a hit into right to keep the rally going. And who else would you want in this situation than Adam Jones? He steps up to the plate.
Wow, Ryan Flaherty dives to field a Miguel Cabrera dribbler and turns a slick double play to end the threat. Gausman, on in relief for Chen, retired the next batter.
And the official attendance is a sell-out of 48,058. They're hoping Kevin Gausman, on in relief for Chen, can avoid trouble after giving up a leadoff single to Torii Hunter to start the 5th inning.
The Orioles strike back, as J.J. Hardy singles in Adam Jones from second base. Tigers 5, Orioles 3.
Suddenly, the wheels are falling off. The Tigers score five runs in the fourth and there hasn't even been an out recorded yet.
Alejandro De Aza flies out for the last out of the 3rd.
Call stands. 2-0 Orioles in the bottom of the 3rd.
The O's bust through with a two-out rally in the bottom of the second. After second baseman Jonathan Schoop got the first Orioles hit of the game with a dribbler up the middle, Nick Markakis lined a two-run blast to right field. But now manager Brad Ausmus is challenging if it left the yard. Looks from here like the ball hit the top of the groundkeeper's shed.
The lefty Chen just helped his own cause. Ian Kinsler smoked a ball back through the box that the lefy starter snared for the last out of the 3rd inning. In the first time through the Tigers lineup, Chen has showed solid control.
Verlander continues to puzzle ther Birds. They haven't been able to square up anything yet. Don't be fooled by the 4.54 ERA Verlander had in the regular season, he's still a beast.
Chen looked pretty sharp in 2nd, flashing a great slider and retiring the side in order.
Verlander retires the Orioles in order. His fastball was sitting at 91 MPH for the most part, which means he's hittable. But he was able to dial it up to 93 MPH to get Adam Jones to go around on an attempted check swing for strike three.
Nice inning of work there by Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen, who was very pitch efficient. Tigers starter Justin Verlander is heading out to the bump.
Okay, we are back for round two of our ALDS live blog. Chen is on the mound and we're ready to get underway.