On Thursday afternoon at 5:37pm at Camden Yards, the Baltimore Orioles will begin their quest to reach the World Series for the first time since 1983. It will be no easy task as standing in their way are the formidable Detroit Tigers.

While the Orioles have been to playoffs twice in the last three seasons, the Tigers have won the AL Central four years in a row. Needless to say, they are a seasoned bunch when it comes to postseason baseball.

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As the best-of-five game ALDS is set to begin, the Tigers are expected to have the edge in the starting rotation. RHP Max Scherzer, RHP Justin Verlander and LHP David Price are all former CY Young award winners. As a matter of fact, they are the last three winners of that award in the AL.

However, if you look at the numbers, the Baltimore rotation actually had a lower ERA (3.61) in 2014 than Detroit (3.89). Orioles RH Chris Tillman, who will oppose Scherzer in game one, is a tough customer who pitches very well at Camden Yards.

The Orioles do have an edge in the bullpen as closer Zach Britton (37 saves, 1.65 ERA) backs up other standouts like RH Darren O’Day (1.70 ERA) and LH Andrew Miller (1.35 ERA). The Tigers have a bullpen that sported a 4.29 ERA. Closer Joe Nathan has had a rough year but, he is experienced.

Offensively, the Orioles led all of Major League Baseball in homers with 211. LF/DH Nelson Cruz not only led the majors with 40 HR’s, he also drove in 108. CF Adam Jones is an All-Star who is looking to perform at a high level in front of a national audience.

The Tigers are no slouches with the bat themselves. Paced by 1B Miguel Cabrera and DH Victor Martinez, Detroit led the AL in runs scored with 757.

Defensively, the Orioles committed 87 errors while the Tigers had 101 miscues. With 3B Manny Machado out with a knee injury, third base defense has been a problem for the Orioles.

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The Orioles have home-field advantage which is a good thing. The Birds were an impressive 50-31 at Camden Yards during the regular season. They were also tough on the road going 46-35. The Tigers were an identical 45-36 both home and away.

Brad Ausmus replaced the outstanding Jim Leyland as Detroit manager and won the division during his rookie season. Baltimore manager Buck Showalter has instilled an attitude in his players that cannot be understated. With Showalter at the helm, we are seeing the modern day version of “The Oriole Way”.

The Tigers were 5-1 against the Orioles during the regular season of 2014. Of course, that season is over. This is now the postseason and the Birds appear to be ready for the challenge.

After watching this team all season, I have a hard time believing the Orioles are going to go out quickly.

This will be a tough series with close games. In the end, I see Buck’s team–led by the bullpen–getting it done.

I’m going with the Baltimore Orioles in four games.
 


 

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