The 2014 Baltimore Orioles did something no other team Buck Showalter’s ever managed in the past, win a playoff series. The Orioles did so in an emphatic fashion, sweeping the Detroit Tigers in the Divisional round of the AL Playoffs. The 2-1 victory puts Baltimore in the ALCS, a place they haven’t been since 1997.
The elimination game (for Detroit) started with five inning of great pitching as neither Bud Norris or David Price wanted to be the one to let their teams down. Norris not only out-dueled Price, but he was dominant in his 6 innings. Giving up just two hits, no runs, and striking out six batters. It comes as no surprise that Nelson Cruz delivered the decisive hit in this game, especially considering the opponent. His two run blast in this game gave him his eighth, yes eighth postseason homerun against the Tigers. Earning him a place on a rather exclusive list per ESPN Stats, Most Homeruns vs Single Team in Post Season. While Detroit was able to knock across a run late in the ninth inning, Baltimore was able to close this one out.
Coming into the series, many expected the Tigers to be the team that advanced. This series featured not one, but two 90 plus win teams going at it early in the post season. The Orioles simply did what they’ve done all through the regular season, play good baseball. While Game 2 was extremely high scoring and close (7-6) in comparison to Games 1 & 3.
Baltimore’s Game 1 performance was spectacular, how many teams have had an eight run eight inning in a postseason game? Not many teams come readily to mind, that performance erased any doubts as if the “moment” may have been too much for the Orioles. It definitely wasn’t as they went on to win 12-3, eked out that win in Game two before closing the door on Detroit tonight.
Nelson Cruz is leading the AL in almost every offensive statistical category including home runs, RBI’s, and batting average (.500). He wasn’t alone as the Orioles were batting .309 as a team heading into Game 3, with an impressive 19 runs on 21 hits.
Baltimore does know who they’ll be playing in the Championship Series, Kansas City comes will be in town for Games 1 & 2 of the ALCS this Friday and Saturday. The Royals were able to handle their business in similar fashion to Baltimore, as they swept the Angels in the Divisional round tonight, winning 8-3. Kansas City was able to take down the team with the best record in baseball (98-64) to get their postseason started. The Royals have a player showing out on the offensive end for them as well in Eric Hosmer, this should be an exciting series!