The Detroit Tigers came to Camden Yards with designs on winning a series, but nobody could have envisioned a sweep. Wednsday afternoon, thanks to a potent offense and more quality relief pitching, a sweep is exactly what they left with by virtue of a 7-5 defeat of the Baltimore Orioles.
Considering the robust and speedy lineup the Tigers have, it was almost certainly going to be a tough day for Kevin Gausman, who drew the start. Gausman did alright to keep Baltimore in the game through the first few innings, but got lit up in the third with singles, with Miguel Cabrera plating two runs and staking Detroit to an early 2-0 lead.
Justin Verlander was cruising along through the middle and early innings, with the Orioles unable to touch him up. In the fourth, Detroit added more runs thanks to speed and small ball. Bryan Holaday and Danny Worth singled in runs, and Rajai Davis's sacrifice fly made it 5-0. After a Don Kelly RBI single an inning later, the Tigers were looking even better.
Then came the bottom half of the fifth inning. After getting two outs mixed around a single, Verlander allowed a walk and two straight singles to cut the lead to 6-2 Nelson Cruz, as he often does, quickly deposited a Verlander offering into the seats to make it 6-5. The game was on.
Detroit's bullpen was spectacular, however, and received an insurance run on Davis's third home run of the season.Verlander got through the sixth, Al Alburquerque and Ian Krol through the seventh and Joba Chamberlain through the eighth striking out two batters combined.
Joe Nathan converted his third save in as many days, snuffing out a mild Orioles threat in the bottom of the ninth to finish off an impressive series sweep of a quality American League East foe.
Top Tiger: Bryan Holaday. The backup catcher isn't supposed to be swinging a hot bat, but Holaday is with a .303 batting average which included two hits on Wednesday, two runs scored and a clutch RBI. Many worried about leaving Alex Avila to, in essence, handle the catching duties by himself, but Holaday has played solid through the first two months, contributing offensively and defensively.
Bungling Bengal: Justin Verlander. Though Verlander got the win, he wasn't fantastic against Baltimore, picking up three walks and allowing the fifth inning to completely unravel on the scoreboard. Ever since his dominating season in 2011, Verlander has had troubles just like this at various points during the season. Still, it was only a few mistakes and he ended up rebounding to get the victory.
The Turning Point: Small-ball onslaught punctuates big fourth inning. The Tigers can hit home runs, doubles and triples with the best of teams, but in 2014 they have done much better with run manufacturing. In the third inning, this was on display, as Detroit singled, bunted and sacrifice flied the Orioles to death. Though they got a five run inning in response, the damage had already been done, and it was thanks to Detroit's early agility and small ball.
Stat Of The Game: 2, the number of stolen bases Victor Martinez has collected this season, which is a high, considering the designated hitter isn't exactly fleet of foot. Downplay Detroit's aggressiveness on the bases, but keep in mind the fact that it's not just the speedy players like Davis and Austin Jackson being put into motion. That speaks to a larger mindset.
Quote To Note: "We're gonna get out of here before they make us play a fourth game." –Brad Ausmus. Clearly, the skipper was thrilled to get a sweep of Baltimore, but he also knows just what a feat winning three in a row against Baltimore was. The Orioles have a powerful offense and solid pitching, meaning it was no accident that Detroit hadn't swept the birds on the road since 2005.
What's Next: The streaking Tigers take a well-deserved travel day off before heading to Boston for a three game set with the Red Sox. Friday night, Jon Lester (4-4) will oppose Max Scherzer (5-1) at 7:10 p.m.Baseball, Bryan Holaday, Danny Worth, Detroit, Detroit Tigers, Joe Nathan, Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, MLB, Nelson Cruz, Rajai Davis, Victor Martinez