This playoff thing really agrees with Nick Markakis.
Markakis homered with two outs in the bottom of the third to score Jonathan Schoop and give the Orioles a 2-0 lead in Game 2 of the American League Division Series. It’s the first postseason home run of Markakis’ career, and his third hit and second RBI in less than 24 hours.
Justin Verlander shook off catcher Alex Avila and threw a 94 mph fastball with the count full. Markakis’ ball hit the roof of the grounds crew shed, bringing an umpires’ review.
Roofs count at Camden Yards.
Verlander retired the first eight Orioles before Schoop singled with two outs in the third. Schoop had two hits last night.
The Tigers lead the majors with a .285 average against left-handers this season. They figured to present quite a challenge to Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen.
Didn’t matter if Orioles manager Buck Showalter decided to push back Chen until later in the series. He’d still be throwing with his left hand.
Chen led the Orioles with 16 wins. He earned the right to pitch today.
So far, it’s been a solid outing for Chen. He’s retired nine of the first 10 batters, with Miguel Cabrera singling in the first inning.
The Royals won last night in Anaheim, but Showalter claimed that he was more focused on college football.
“Arizona and Oregon? Last night? I saw that,” he quipped.
Apparently, Showalter isn’t looking too far ahead as the Orioles try to advance past the Tigers.
“Not much,” he said. “All concentration is trying to figure out a way to win now, two more games. That’s going to be real hard to do.
“This is another area where you trust your people. Just like Detroit’s got scouts and people out, you know... As a fan, you watch it somewhat and you pay attention to it. We don’t have that much spare time this time of year, but as a fan you pay attention to it. Obviously, I’m a fan of the game.
“How many games on today? Do you know?”
All four games.
“Wow, that’s a smorgasbord,” Showalter said. “This is tough on my mother. As you get older, 11 starts back home, I know where I got it from. She goes to bed real late and she gets up when she wants to. She says, ‘I’m a grown woman, I can get up when I want to and go to bed when I want to.’ But this 11 start is difficult. You have to be on her porch before 11 to get in the house to watch it.
“Anybody care? OK.”
Asked how early he arrived at Camden Yards today, Showalter replied, “What makes you think we left.”
“I’m not telling,” he said. “That’s up to them and us. I used to have a Murphy bed. Thank goodness I got rid of that thing. Not here, but in Arizona. Used to have a cot. A lot of people do. By the time you get to the park, you pick up two hours sleep by staying there. But I think most of the guys went home yesterday. That was a pretty quick clear-out.
“Traffic coming in today, very seldom do you come in with the traffic of the work force. That was some interesting red lights coming in this morning.
“All the people standing outside the bars last night, I wonder if they’re coming today. There might be some bad heads, huh?”
Showalter said the team has become “numb” to the odd start times.
“You worry sometimes during the season about the quality of play and the product, how much taxation you put on these guys with start times, but when you explain to everybody why we’re having to do it this way,” he said.
“I do worry sometimes during the season with so much yo-yo fluctuation and starting times. I always look for the part of the season where you play five or six days in a row at the same time. I feel like a lot of the injuries really are when guys have that quick turnaround. It’s tough.”
Catcher Matt Wieters scouted the Tigers in Detroit during the final weekend of the regular season.
“He was good last night,” Showalter quipped. “We’ll see if he’s good today.”
Did Wieters find anything that’s been useful to the Orioles?
“Was a plane ticket and the hotel room and the meal money worth it? He was getting that in Toronto,” Showalter quipped.
(Yes, he was in a good mood this morning. Can you tell?)
“I don’t know yet,” Showalter continued. “Yeah, he brought back some information. He said some things that we put into play, but nothing that our scouts that were there weren’t on top of, too.
“I think any chance Matt gets to make a contribution, and he has... How many guys would have had surgery and maybe gone home for a while? He’s been engaged with the team and been a contributor with Caleb (Joseph) and Nick since the day he came back from surgery.
“I think sometimes we lose sight how, not painful, how frustrating things like this must be for him and I know Manny (Machado) and Chris (Davis). But he’s kind of gotten over that emotion, kind of throwing himself into helping. We’re lucky to have him. He doesn’t have any ego. He’s just like, ‘What can I help with?’
“He did tell me he had a birthday party for his son scheduled on that Monday and he said, ‘If there is a playoff game, you all are on your own. I’ve got to get back for a birthday.’”
Update: Chen is done after only 3 2/3 innings. He allowed back-to-back home runs to J.D. Martinez and Nick Castellanos in the fourth after Victor Martinez’s RBI single, and the Orioles are down 5-2.
Torii Hunter singled and Miguel Cabrera doubled before Victor Martinez’s single. Cabrera danced across the plate and appeared to be yelling at fans who booed him.
Kevin Gausman struck out Ian Kinsler on a 98 mph fastball to end the inning.
Update II: Adam Jones singled in the fourth and scored on J.J. Hardy’s two-out single to cut the Detroit lead to 5-3.
Jones is 3-for-33 lifetime in the playoffs.
Gausman struck out Victor Martinez on a 98 mph fastball to end the fifth after Ryan Flaherty made a diving stop of Miguel Cabrera’s grounder to start a 5-4-3 double play.
Update III: Victor Martinez’s RBI double in the eighth gave Detroit a 6-3 lead.
Kevin Gausman retired nine of 10 batters before a walk, single and double ended his day. Cabrera was thrown out at the plate.
Update IV: Delmon Young lined a pinch-hit, three-run double to left field off Joakim Soria in the bottom of the eighth to give the Orioles a 7-6 lead.
The Tigers’ bullpen strikes again.
Joba Chamberlain started the inning and gave up an RBI single to Steve Pearce after hitting Adam Jones with one out and allowing a single to Nelson Cruz.
J.J Hardy walked to load the bases and Young cleared them.
Young was 10-for-20 as a pinch-hitter this season.
Update V: Game over. The Orioles defeat the Tigers 7-6 to take a 2-0 lead in games in the ALDS.
Brad Brach got the win and Zach Britton earned the save.
See you in Detroit.