Young and relentless: Orioles take 2-0 edge

Veteran ropes three-run double in eighth as Baltimore erases early deficit

October 3rd, 2014

BALTIMORE -- Having piled on for eight runs in the eighth inning of Thursday's lopsided win, there was good reason for the sellout crowd at Camden Yards to cheer when the Orioles chased their second Cy Young Award winner -- Justin Verlander -- in as many days, this time without an out in the sixth during Game 2 of the American League Division Series on Friday afternoon. Even if they were trailing at the time.

The Tigers' bullpen, which has struggled the past few Octobers, showed no signs of improvement in Game 2. Delmon Young came off the bench and sent the crowd into a frenzy as he roped the first pitch he saw into left field for a three-run double in the eighth to cap a thrilling 7-6 comeback victory and a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five set.

The O's have lived up to their catchphrase "We Won't Stop," relentlessly pressuring the Tigers pitching staff.

"We call him Bruce Lee," Nelson Cruz said of Young, who is a career .340 pinch-hitter in 50 at-bats. "He doesn't lose a fight. Every time he comes up, he delivers."

Cruz said teammates were joking with shortstop J.J. Hardy to not swing with Young in the on-deck circle, and Tigers pitcher Joakim Soria granted that wish with a five-pitch walk to load the bases and set the stage for Young.

"He's been doing it for a long time in his career," center fielder Adam Jones said of Young, who been to the postseason six consecutive years and made the Orioles as a non-roster invitee this spring. "If you look at his postseason numbers [.271/.326/.551, nine homers, 21 RBIs in 117 at bats], they are pretty solid. Buck [Showalter] trusts him in that situation. We do also. No better man to have up in that situation than Delmon."

Down three with six outs to go, the Orioles got the one-out rally going off Joba Chamberlain. The right-hander was greeted with a rousing ovation from the crowd after allowing two runs on Thursday without recording an out. He retired Alejandro de Aza on a grounder to second, then hit Jones with a pitch, followed by a pair of singles from Cruz and Steve Pearce to make it 6-4.

Detroit manager Brad Ausmus promptly removed Chamberlain for Soria, who struggled as much as Chamberlain on Thursday in allowing four runs over one-third of an inning. After walking Hardy, Young smacked Soria's first pitch into left field for the decisive blow.

"I'm just pinch-hitting, trying to do my job and trying to win a game," Young said. "You don't want to go to Detroit 1-1 when they have [David] Price going and then [Rick] Porcello. They've had the opportunity to clinch up there."

Now the Orioles do. Only five teams (in 44 attempts) have come back from an 0-2 deficit in Division Series play -- most recently, the World Series champion Giants in 2012. The last team to do so in the AL was the 2003 Red Sox, who overcame the A's. Of the 13 AL teams that fell behind 0-2 since, only two have forced Game 5 and seven were swept.

"No secret. We're against the wall," Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez said after watching O's closer Zach Britton record a 1-2-3 ninth for his first career postseason save. "There's not a good feeling at all when you're facing an elimination game, but it's over. There's nothing we can do now."

The Orioles, who have twice showcased a strong bullpen, got a huge outing from converted starter Kevin Gausman. After lefty starter Wei-Yin Chen's uneven 3 2/3 innings, Gausman retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced and struck out five in the impressive relief outing, exiting after Martinez's eighth-inning RBI double pushed the deficit to three.

"Kevin presented himself real well," Showalter said. "We thought he could be a weapon for us in the bullpen in the playoffs, because with their lineup, you're going to have some challenges pitching to them."

Chen certainly did, with the lefty falling apart in a five-run fourth that chased him from the game and handed Baltimore its first deficit of the series.

After three consecutive hits from the Tigers, including Martinez's RBI single, J.D. Martinez connected for a three-run homer and Chen allowed a solo shot to the next batter, Nick Castellanos. Chen rebounded briefly, recording the next two outs before Rajai Davis' single ended Chen's afternoon at 57 pitches.

"[This team is] resilient, just doesn't give up," said Hardy, who brought the O's within two on a two-out, fourth-inning single off Verlander. "And we've got guys like Delmon Young on the bench that can come in and pinch-hit like that. That was a pretty special win. It was fun."

The Orioles' offense stalled early and didn't have a baserunner off Verlander until Jonathan Schoop singled up the middle on an 0-2 fastball in the third. Nick Markakis made Verlander pay with a full-count homer off the top of the groundskeepers' shed in right-center field. The blast, which was confirmed after a crew chief review, marked Baltimore's third homer of the series and put the O's up 2-0.