O's are only team with 96-plus wins with a playoff victory, plus other notes

If Orioles fans didn't already greatly appreciate and enjoy the strong position their team is in the series with Detroit, just looked around a bit. * Los Angeles Angels, 98 wins, down 0-2. * Washington Nationals, 96 wins, down. 0-2. * Baltimore Orioles, 96 wins, up 2-0. The two No. 1 seeds are both a loss from elimination while the Orioles have a chance for a three-game sweep this afternoon at Detroit. Unless you want to count the 2012 wild card game as a one-game sweep, the last time the Orioles swept a postseason series was when they went 3-0 against Oakland in the 1971 American League Championship Series. It was a best-of-five then. Those great O's teams from 1969, '70 and '71 went 9-0 over three years in the ALCS in advancing to three straight World Series. The Orioles' only other postseason sweep was the stunning 4-0 World Series win in 1966 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Here is an impressive note: Since the Orioles moved to Baltimore in 1954, their postseason winning percentage of .593 (51-35) ranks second in the majors behind only Miami at .667 (22-11). On another topic, how does a pitcher approach playoff baseball, especially if you are facing an opponent from another division - like the Orioles are with Detroit - where you may not have seen the opposing hitters often during the season? hunter-white-windup-sidebar.jpgSo is this a time that a pitcher will rely more on the scouting reports than ever? I asked O's reliever Tommy Hunter that question. "Me, personally, I'm still going to go after people," Hunter said. "I have to. That is what I do and what I've done my entire career. I'm not going to change it now. Throw a fastball, throw a curveball and see where it gets me. "I can't change anything because of who it is. It's not a good time to do that. I hope no one does that. That is what you have to do to win. Play the same baseball you've played for six or seven months. There is a reason we are in this situation. Keep it the same and go get them." I thought Hunter gave a great answer. There is no reason to change. No reason for a pitcher, or any player really, to go away from what could be their strength to attack an opponent's perceived weakness. Go with your best this time of year. Kevin Gausman certainly did that with his strong 3 2/3 innings in relief on Friday. He held the Tigers in check, fanning five of the first eight batters he faced, striking out Victor and J.D. Martinez and also getting Miguel Cabrera to hit into a double play. Heading into this series, Gausman knew he would pitch in relief and he predicted it would be in more of a long relief role rather than a series of one-inning outings. "More than anything, whatever is needed," Gausman said. "I would say probably a long guy because we have so many guys that are good one-inning shutdown guys." Sometimes when a starter pitches in relief, his stuff "plays up," as they say. He can pitch with greater velocity as he knows he doesn't have to pace himself to try and pitch seven or more innings and he may not have to game-plan to face hitters two or three times. Gausman said when he pitched in relief last season, his stuff did play up. "Yeah, I think so. Last year, I threw harder out of the 'pen than I did starting," he said. "I'm sure that will be the case this year, too. You try to bring your A game from the first pitch. You don't have that first inning to get comfortable." Gausman certainly brought the gas with 98 mph heat in Friday's outing. The battle of the bullpens in this series has been rather one-sided. The O's bullpen ERA is 1.93 to Detroit's 24.54. The O's 'pen has allowed two runs in 9 1/3 innings while Detroit has allowed 11 runs (10 earned) over 3 2/3 innings. So now we are just hours from Game 3. Do the O's complete the sweep today or will Detroit bounce back, gain momentum and force a fourth game?

Tigers lineup vs. Orioles in Game 3
Notes on Young and Schoop before Game 3 of ALDS

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