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Major League Baseball
Preview
Detroit at Baltimore
When: 5:30 PM ET, Thursday, October 2, 2014
Where: Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland

The Detroit Tigers are enjoying their fourth straight American League Central Division crown but are still looking for their first World Series title since 1984. The Baltimore Orioles, who host Tigers in Game 1 of the AL Division Series on Thursday, are appearing in the postseason for the second time in three years after a drought of 15 seasons. The AL East champion Orioles battled into the last week for the best record in the AL after running away with the division.

Detroit has been in postseason mode for the last month while fighting off the Kansas City Royals in the Central and appear primed for the series with Justin Verlander coming around to solidify the rotation. The question with the Tigers has always been the bullpen, but closer Joe Nathan did manage to put together four straight scoreless appearances to close the regular season and Anibal Sanchez has been added to the setup mix. Baltimore does not have the big-name starters like Detroit but overcame the loss of Manny Machado and Chris Davis on offense thanks in part to a bullpen that ranked third in the AL with a 3.10 ERA.

TV: 5:37 p.m. ET, TBS

PITCHING MATCHUP:
Tigers RH Max Scherzer (18-5, 3.15 ERA) vs. Orioles RH Chris Tillman (13-6, 3.34)

Scherzer is set to make a killing in free agency this winter and can only increase his market value with another successful postseason. The reigning Cy Young Award winner appeared in four playoff games last fall and went 2-1 with a 2.82 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 22 1/3 total innings. Scherzer has not faced Baltimore since a pair of starts in 2013, when he allowed four runs in 14 innings.

Tillman had a string of 20 straight starts allowing three or fewer earned runs come to an end in his final regular-season turn at Toronto on Friday, when he was reached for four runs and 11 hits in six frames. The 26-year-old did not walk a batter in that start and has issued two or fewer free passes in each of his last five outings. Tillman last faced the Tigers in Detroit on April 6 and held them to one run on five hits in 8 1/3 innings to pick up the win.

WALK-OFFS

1. The Tigers took five or six in the regular-season series, though all six contests happened before mid-May.

2. Orioles 1B Steve Pearce (wrist) missed five of the final nine games, but will be in Thursday's lineup.

3. Detroit 1B Miguel Cabrera went 10-for-25 with a pair of home runs and nine RBIs in the six meetings with Baltimore and finished the season strong with a 1.118 OPS in September.

PREDICTION:
Orioles 5, Tigers 3
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away East Central West IL
Detroit 90-72 W1 45-36 45-36 17-15 43-33 18-16 12-8
Baltimore 96-66 W1 50-31 46-35 47-29 16-17 21-12 12-8
Last Meeting
Detroit Baltimore
Date Away Home Avg HR OPS Avg HR OPS
5/14/14 DET 7 BAL 5 .257 1 .651 .250 1 .675
Player Stats
Divisional Playoff Series
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Detroit N/A
Baltimore N/A
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Detroit A. Alburquerque 0 0 0
Baltimore Q. Berry 0 0 0
Pitching ERA Avg K
Detroit 0.00 .000 0
Baltimore 0.00 .000 0
Playoffs
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Detroit N/A
Baltimore N/A
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Detroit A. Alburquerque 0 0 0
Baltimore Q. Berry 0 0 0
Pitching ERA Avg K
Detroit 0.00 .000 0
Baltimore 0.00 .000 0