Faced with defeating the pitcher who still reigns as the defending American League Cy Young, the Baltimore Orioles worked to get into the Detroit bullpen before sealing a 1-0 series lead.
The Orioles scored eight runs in the eighth inning when they were able to KO Max Scherzer from the game and go on to pound the Detroit 'pen. Baltimore used the eight runs to extend what was a 4-3 lead to 12-3 and all but end game one at Camden Yards.
But forcing Scherzer out of the game wasn't easy. The big Tigers' right-hander proved very efficient with his pitch count, not even throwing 100 pitches before he departed in the eighth. Scherzer gave up three runs early before settling into a nice groove.
Two of those three runs allowed came in the first inning when Nelson Cruz lifted a two-out home run to right center field for his first playoff long ball. Cruz, who was the only player in baseball to hit 40 home runs during the regular season, brought home Nick Markakis with the blast and gave the O's a quick 2-0 lead.
Back and forth
But Detroit answered right back in the top of the second. After a 1-2-3 first inning, Chris Tillman gave up back-to-back home runs to lead off second. First, Victor Martinez shot a ball over the fence in right. JD Martinez (no relation) followed when he went to the opposite field from the right side of the plate. The two solo shots quickly tied the game back up, but that was all the Tigers would score against Tillman who allowed four hits in five innings of work. He struck out six and walked just one batter to eventually get the win.
He earned that victory because Nick Markakis put his team back ahead the very next opportunity the Orioles got in the bottom of the second. With two outs and just one man on first, Jonathan Schoop singled to move Ryan Flaherty over to third. Nick Markakis capitalized to extend the two-out rally and single home Flaherty, giving Baltimore a 3-2 lead.
It stayed that way until the the seventh when JJ Hardy, and then Miguel Cabrera, hit solo home runs. Hardy's home run made it 4-2 and then Cabrera brought it right back to a one-run game. Baltimore took the drama out of the game in their half of the eighth with a crooked number.
The O's used six hits, two Detroit errors and a couple walks to plate eight in the eighth. Two of the runs were charged to Scherzer, while the other six came against a trio of Detroit relief pitchers. The big inning made it 12-3 and effectively ended the game there.
Game two will be on Saturday afternoon when Justin Verlander looks to even the series against Wei-Yin Chen at Camden Yards.
First pitch is scheduled for 12:07 PM.