Maybe the Orioles should consider themselves fortunate. The Detroit Tigers were on such a bad roll that their luck had to change at some point. So maybe the O's were lucky that they already had won the first three games of the series.
It looked like they were going to pull off the four-game sweep until something very, very unusual happened. Reliever Darren O'Day gave up back-to-back home runs on consecutive pitches in the eighth inning and the Tigers came from behind to notch a 6-5 victory before 37,890 at Camden Yards.
J.D. Martinez hit a towering fly ball with two outs that didn't initially appear destined to carry all the way out to center field. Miguel Cabrera followed with a line drive that got out a lot quicker to give the Tigers the lead.
The Orioles weren't happy because the Martinez at-bat survived a two-strike check swing that everybody in orange and black thought was strike three. But they were probably due to get beaten by a bad break – especially after starter Kevin Gausman struggled through the first five innings and was fortunate to be in position to get his first victory.
"It's not really saying the odds got you,'' manager Buck Showalter said. "I think they were doing a good job against Kevin as much as Kevin was not pitching with his normal success, but he was three outs from getting the win today and that would have been a real good reminder to all our guys to stay engaged and keep pitching."
The loss ended the Orioles' seven-game winning streak and provided a bit of solace to a slumping Tigers club that had lost 11 of its previous 12 games.
It's not often the Orioles lose a battle of the bullpens and it's apparently not often the Tigers' 25-ranked pen (4.42 ERA entering Sunday) wins one. But three Tigers relievers combined to throw 4 1/3 scoreless innings, Warwick Saupold getting the victory and former Oriole Francisco Rodriguez earning his ninth save.
Gausman gave up a career-high 10 hits and got into trouble in pretty much all of his five innings. It was a clear contrast from his four previous 2016 starts in which he gave up a total of 15 hits over 25 innings. Still, that didn't keep him from lasting long enough to become eligible for his first victory of the season after Manny Machado brought the Orioles back from a run down with his 11th home run of the year in the fifth inning.
He allowed a run in a rocky first, but the Orioles rallied to score three in the bottom of the inning against Tigers rookie Michael Fulmer. The Tigers scored single runs in three of the next four innings to re-take the lead.
Alvarez back at third: Pedro Alvarez made his second consecutive start at third base, but did not see as much action as he did Saturday night. He was involved in one play in the first inning, but he wasn't anywhere near third base because the Orioles were in an exaggerated shift against hot-hitting Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez.
Quick recovery: The Orioles scored three runs in a hurry against Fulmer and it looked like the game was about to turn into a blowout with two runners on base and only one out in the first inning. But Fulmer got Alvarez to ground into a double play to end that inning and pitched well until Machado's go-ahead home run in the fifth.
Cutting into the Crush factor: The Tigers pitched carefully to Chris Davis over the weekend, walking him four times in the final three games of the series. His two walks Sunday gave him seven games this season in which he has walked multiple times and, combined with a couple of outs, raised his on-base percentage to .367. He led the club in that department last year, but Machado is currently leading the O's regulars in that department at .387.