O's game blog: Bud Norris on the mound as O's go for a sweep

With a win this afternoon, the Orioles will advance to the American League Championship Series for the first time since 1997 when they played the Cleveland Indians. The Orioles hold a 2-0 lead over the Detroit Tigers in the AL Division Series and need one win to advance. A win today at Comerica Park would give them their first postseason series sweep since a 3-0 win over the Oakland A's in the 1971 ALCS. But the Tigers have rallied in the ALDS before - in fact, just last year when they trailed Oakland 2-1 in games before winning Game 4 at home and Game 5 on the road. Combine that with their Game 5 win over Oakland in 2012 and Detroit is 3-0 in ALDS elimination games the last two years. norris-pitching-front-gray-sidebar.jpgOn the mound today, right-hander Bud Norris (15-8, 3.65 ERA) faces Tigers lefty David Price (15-12, 3.26 ERA), a pitcher the Orioles know very well from his days with Tampa Bay. Norris had a strong finish to the season, pitching to an ERA of 1.47 over his last three starts. And in five September starts, he went 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA and a .200 average against with 34 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings. Norris has not pitched well against Detroit, however. He is 0-2 with an ERA of 6.39 in two 2014 starts. In four career starts, he is 0-3 with a 6.57 ERA. But two stats that could prove big for him today are his .226 batting average against versus right-handed hitters and his .173 average against when pitching with runners in scoring position. That stat flew under the radar this season for Norris, but among qualifying pitchers, he led the AL in that department. AL leaders, batting average against with RISP: .173 - Bud Norris, Orioles .182 - Felix Hernandez, Seattle .191 - Alex Cobb, Tampa Bay .195 - Chris Young, Seattle As for Price, there was a time when he was dominant against Baltimore. In fact, in 2012 he went 3-0 with a 0.40 ERA against the Orioles and he is 7-3 with a 2.82 ERA in 17 career starts. But since 2013, he is 1-1 with a 4.67 ERA in five starts versus the Orioles, allowing 43 hits in 27 innings. The O's are 3-2 in those games. Price also has a poor record in ALDS games, going 0-4 with an ERA of 5.81 in four career starts. Over 26 1/3 innings, he has allowed 33 hits and five homers. In his only ALDS outing last October, for Tampa Bay against Boston, he went seven innings allowing nine hits and seven runs. But Price pitched Detroit to the AL Central clincher a week ago today on the last day of the regular season with 7 1/3 scoreless innings against Minnesota. Detroit acquired him to pitch big games like today. This season, he led the AL with 271 strikeouts. He also led the league in innings (248 1/3) and was fifth in WHIP (1.08). The Orioles will try to hold down that potent middle of the Tigers order today. The trip of Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez is a combined 9-for-23 (.391) in this series with four homers and eight RBIs. The rest of the Tigers are a combined 9-for-46 (.196) with one homer and one RBI. The Orioles are 10-5 all-time in ALDS games. If they get that win total to 11 today, Orioles fans will be able to celebrate and the club could begin preparing for the ALCS, which starts Friday.

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