O My: Orioles take down Tigers, sweep ALDS

Detroit, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - The Detroit Tigers had the names, but the Baltimore Orioles proved once again they've got the game.

Nelson Cruz burned the Tigers with yet another home run, Bud Norris outdueled his more-heralded counterpart David Price, and the Orioles finished off an eye-opening sweep of Detroit in the American League Division Series with a 2-1 Game 3 win at Comerica Park.

Cruz's two-run shot off Price in the sixth inning was all Norris and relievers Andrew Miller and Zach Britton needed to send Baltimore to its first ALCS appearance since 1997.

And the Orioles did it by winning games started by a trio of former Cy Young Award recipients -- Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Price -- along the way.

"They've got a lot to be proud of," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "It's a step. There's different steps during the season that you have to take and this is one of them. It's so hard against a team like Detroit that has a great pedigree and experience at (the postseason)."

Baltimore will face the upstart Royals, who completed a series sweep over the Angels on Sunday night, in the best-of-seven Championship Series, which will begin Friday.

Price (0-1), thought to be the final missing piece to a star-studded Detroit squad that had reached the ALCS in each of the last three years but couldn't capture a World Series title, pitched very well in his first postseason start since being acquired from Tampa Bay at this summer's trade deadline. The ace lefty yielded just five hits, including Cruz's go-ahead blast, and two walks while fanning six over eight solid innings.

Norris (1-0) was just a little bit better, however, with the righty limiting the Tigers' potent lineup to a mere two hits and a pair of walks while striking out six through 6 1/3 scoreless innings.

"I don't know if there was a ton I'd do differently, quite frankly," said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus of his team's lack of offense. "I think Game 2 (a 7-6 comeback win by Baltimore) was probably the game that hurt us the most, obviously, having a lead going to the eighth inning."

He also benefited from a questionable call in the second inning, as the Tigers' Andrew Romine was ruled out on a bunt attempt that would have scored Alex Avila from third despite replays showing he may have beat the play, which was challenged by Ausmus but upheld.

Britton surrendered back-to-back doubles to Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez to begin the bottom of the ninth, but bounced back to induce a game-ending double-play grounder from Hernan Perez with the winning run on first.

Norris, a somewhat surprising choice by Orioles skipper Buck Showalter to start Game 3, justified the decision by successfully challenging Detroit's hitters all throughout his stint.

He was reached for a double by Avila with one out in the second, however, with the Tigers catcher tagging to third on Nick Castellanos' fly ball prior to Romine dropping down a hard bunt to second that Jonathan Schoop scooped up and tossed to first with his glove just as the runner reached the bag.

After a nearly 2 1/2-minute review, the out call stood to take the would-be run off the board.

Detroit had another near-miss in the bottom of the third, which Don Kelly began with a single and later stole second. Torii Hunter followed with a chopper to short in which Kelly was caught too far away from the bag and erased for the second out.

Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy kept the inning alive by throwing away Miguel Cabrera's grounder to put runners on second and third, but Norris escaped by getting Victor Martinez to fly out.

Price, meanwhile, didn't allow more than one baserunner in an inning until the sixth, when Adam Jones singled in front of Cruz's opposite-field fly ball that narrowly cleared the shortest part of the park just inside the right-field foul pole.

The homer was Cruz's 16th in postseason play. Eight of them have come in nine career playoff meetings with Detroit.

"He's been awesome all year," said Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis. "That's the main reason we got him. I played a lot of games against him and he's done a lot of damage against us. I'm just glad he's on our team doing the damage now."

Norris departed after issuing a one-out walk to Castellanos in the seventh. Miller came on to retire the next two hitters, then set down the side in order in the eighth to keep it a 2-0 game.

Britton wasn't as effective in the ninth, as Victor Martinez greeted the closer with a line drive that rolled to the wall for a double and J.D. Martinez crushed an 0-2 pitch into the gap in right center to get the Tigers on the board.

Britton came up with a key strikeout of Bryan Holaday, however, then intentionally walked Castellanos to set up Perez's around-the-horn double-play ball that sent Detroit's season of high expectations to a sudden end.

Game Notes

Cruz's 16 postseason homers ties Carlos Beltran for ninth place on MLB's all- time list. He hit six in six games against Detroit en route to earning MVP honors in the 2011 ALCS while with Texas ... Price fell to 0-5 in five career ALDS starts ... Holaday replaced Avila in the top of the sixth inning after the latter took a foul ball off his catcher's mask and was forced to leave the game ... The Orioles improved to 3-1 overall in Division Series, having bested Cleveland in 1996 and Seattle in 1997 and losing to the Yankees in 2012 ... Tigers center fielder Rajai Davis did not start due to a strained groin, but grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning.