If the Baltimore Orioles hope to avoid a three-game sweep at the Detroit Tigers, they will need to figure out how to stop Torii Hunter. The Orioles will hope Chris Tillman has better luck against Hunter when they send the right-hander to the mound in the finale of a three-game series on Sunday. Hunter has homered in each of the first two games of the series and piled up five RBIs in Saturday’s contest to help the Tigers overcome a bullpen breakdown.
Detroit allowed five runs in the ninth inning Saturday to turn an easy win into a 7-6 nail bitter. Joe Nathan, who signed a two-year, $20 million deal in the offseason to become the team’s new closer, gave up the last of those runs before retiring the final two batters with the tying run on third. Baltimore has dropped four in a row since opening the season with a win over the Boston Red Sox and scored more than four runs for the first time in five games with the ninth-inning explosion Saturday.
TV: 1:08 p.m. ET, MASN2 (Baltimore), FSN Detroit
PITCHING MATCHUP: Orioles RH Chris Tillman (0-0, 1.80 ERA) vs. Tigers RH Justin Verlander (0-0, 3.00)
Tillman held the Boston Red Sox to one run on seven hits in five innings Opening Day but was held out of the decision in Baltimore’s lone win. The 25-year-old lasted five innings in his only start against Detroit last season, surrendering three runs and seven hits to pick up the win. Tillman, like most pitchers, has had some trouble getting out Miguel Cabrera, who is 4-for-9 with a home off the right-hander in his career.
Verlander went six innings in his first start and left in line for the loss after surrendering three runs - two earned - in six innings before the offense came through late. The former MVP had more walks (three) than strikeouts (two) against the Kansas City Royals that afternoon. Verlander earned a win at Baltimore on June 1 last season but was knocked around for five runs in as many innings in a rematch at home June 18.
1. Orioles SS J.J. Hardy (back spasms) returned to the lineup Saturday and is 8-for-31 with three home runs in his career off Verlander.
2. Detroit 2B Ian Kinsler is 7-for-15 with three RBIs and three runs scored in the last three games.
3. Baltimore has scored seven of its 10 runs in the series in the ninth inning.