Nobody in America (maybe except for some diehard Orioles fans) predicted that the Orioles would have sweep the Tigers.
They defeated the Detroit today 2-1 to make that reality. Behind Nelson Cruz, they were able to take a series in three games that many thought would be a lot closer.
Coming into the series, many thought the Orioles and Tigers would be interlocked in a very good series. The Orioles with their high-flying offense, lead by AL home run king Nelson Cruz, would be matched up very nicely with the Tigers starting pitching staff that includes three former AL Cy Young award winners in Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, and David Price. The Orioles beat all three. In a row.
Nelson Cruz was the highlight of the Orioles offense. He hit .500 (6-for-12) with two homers, five runs batted in, and twelve total bases in the three games. Other than Cruz, each game had their own individual heroes, with it being Jonathan Schoop and Alejandro De Aza in game one, and Delmon Young in game two. Game three was all Cruz.
As for the pitching, the Orioles staff doesn't have any big names like the Tigers. Yet they did their job in games one and three, as Chris Tillman and Bud Norris, respectively pitched pretty good games. Tillman went five and allowed just two in game one, and Norris went 6 2/3 shutout in the clincher, allowing just two hits, and striking out six Detroit hitters.
The Tigers starters weren't bad by any means. They tossed 20 1/3 innings, averaging 6 2/3 a start, and posted a pretty respectable 4.43 ERA. Just looking at those stats, you probably would have never expected those starters to lose three games in a row.
But the Tigers bullpen was bad by all means. Joakim Soria, Joba Chamberlain, and Phil Coke turned a one run deficit into a nine run deficit in the eighth inning of game one, and Soria and Chamberlain blew a three run lead in the eighth inning of game two. If the Tigers win one of those two games, we have a whole new series.
But they didn't. The Tigers were outplayed in all aspects of the game in this series. The Orioles had better overall pitching and defense, and their timely hitting really got the job done. This team has something about them that makes you want to root for them. For the first time since 1997, the Orioles will be playing for the American League's spot in the World Series, advancing to the ALCS. And there is absolutely nobody that can stop them from doing that.