Orioles only team able to spell relief in ALDS

If I’m Tigers bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer, I’m pretending that the phone is on vibrate and I never heard it ring. Manager Brad Ausmus may not buy that excuse, but what does Billmeyer have to lose?

The Tigers have lost the first two games of the American League Division Series because their relievers can’t hold a lead or keep a game close. The Orioles have scored 12 runs in the eighth inning alone. They scored 10 in the entire 2012 ALDS against the Yankees.

Joba Chamberlain and Joakim Soria should be roommates in a reality show, arguing over which one closes the front door. As we learn, neither one is able to close.

Set up a joke? They’re not equipped to set up, either.

Former Oriole Jim Johnson must be sitting in the dugout wondering just how bad his season has gone that he’s excluded from the ALDS roster.

The Tigers bullpen is responsible for 11 runs (10 earned) and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings. That’s not relief, that’s rancid.

Ausmus should put Game 3 starter David Price on a pitch count of 200. Then again, he chose to remove Anibal Sanchez yesterday after two perfect innings because, as he explained, letting the right-hander throw 35 pitches would have been “pushing it.”

Sanchez, in only his third career relief appearance and his second major league game since Aug. 8 after recovering from a strained pectoral, had thrown 30 pitches.

I say, push it. It’s the postseason. New rules, stronger sense of urgency. We’re not talking a concussion here. If he’s physically unable to continue, he’ll let you know. Otherwise, run him back out there.

It’s far more painful to watch Chamberlain and Soria.

The Tigers made a strong run at left-hander Andrew Miller at the non-waiver trade deadline, but shifted their focus to Price. The Orioles pried Miller from the Red Sox because they finally agreed to part with Double-A left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez.

Call me crazy, but I think the Tigers would be better off with Drew Smyly in their rotation and Miller in their bullpen.

I’ve been inside loud ballparks. I remember how I couldn’t hear the person next to me in the press box at the Kingdome during the 1997 Division Series - Mike Mussina vs. Randy Johnson in Game 1. Couldn’t make a phone call back in the landline days. Just yelled into the receiver and hung up, hoping my editor heard me.

Well, that place had a roof. The noise level at Camden Yards rivaled it yesterday, especially after Delmon Young’s three-run double in the eighth.

britton-hundley-fist-bump-sidebar.jpgCloser Zach Britton had to keep calm. He would have been amped up under quieter circumstances. Imagine the jolts of energy shooting through his body yesterday as he took the mound in the ninth inning with a 7-6 lead and the fans going berserk.

“It’s tough, but I think you just try to enjoy it,” he said. “This is a cool opportunity. And I was just using that eighth inning when the crowd was kind of going crazy to try to duplicate what I was going to feel or replicate what I was going to feel on the mound and try to simulate it a little bit. But it’s tough to do until you get out there.”

Britton made it look easy, retiring the Tigers in order on 11 pitches. Just the way it’s supposed to be done.

Britton and his teammates will work out today at 2 p.m. at Comerica Park, with Game 3 to follow on Sunday. I’ll post some notes and quotes later this afternoon.

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