Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees (-149)
New York leads series 2-1
The Baltimore Orioles were two outs away from taking a 2-1 lead in the American League Division Series. Now they're one loss away from having their magical season come to an end as they attempt to stave off elimination Thursday against the Yankees in New York. Behind a brilliant pitching performance by Miguel Gonzalez and solo home runs from fellow rookies Ryan Flaherty and Manny Machado, Baltimore held a 2-1 advantage Wednesday until Raul Ibanez hit a one-out homer in the ninth inning while pinch-hitting for the struggling Alex Rodriguez.
The game-tying blast came off Orioles closer Jim Johnson, who entered the series opener with the score tied and proceeded to yield five runs while recording just one out. Ibanez provided more heroics in the 12th inning on Wednesday, crushing Brian Matusz's first pitch of the frame for his second blast of the night and a 2-1 series lead. The Orioles fell to 16-3 in extra-inning games this year, with all three losses coming against the Yankees. The first two setbacks occurred on April 10-11. Baltimore also dropped to 76-1 when leading after seven innings.
New York has won two of the last three games in which it has trailed after eight innings. Prior to Oct. 2 against Boston, it was 0-58 in such contests this year. Rodriguez is 1-for-12 with seven strikeouts thus far in the series. Derek Jeter, who left Wednesday's game after eight innings with a foot injury, hit his fifth career playoff triple in the third frame to tie George Brett and Rafael Furcal for the most all time.
TV: 7:37 p.m. ET, TBS
WEATHER: The forecast is calling for clear skies and temperatures in the mid 50s. Winds are expected to blow WSW at 7 mph.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Orioles LH Joe Saunders (1-0, 1.59 ERA) (3-3, 3.63) vs. Yankees RH Phil Hughes (16-13, 4.23 ERA)
Saunders is coming off a solid effort in the wild-card game against Texas on Friday, when he allowed one run and six hits over 5 2/3 innings. The 31-year-old improved to 3-1 lifetime versus the Yankees on Sept. 8 as he yielded two runs and five hits in 5 1/3 frames. Saunders faced New York twice in the 2009 AL Championship Series while with the Los Angeles Angels, coming away with a no-decision in Game Two despite allowing two runs in seven innings before surrendering three runs in only 3 1/3 frames and suffering the loss in the series-ending Game Six.
Hughes has struggled over his last three starts, allowing a total of 13 runs in 16 1/3 innings while going 1-1. The 26-year-old lasted only 4 2/3 frames at Toronto on Sept. 30, escaping with a no-decision despite surrendering five runs and eight hits. Hughes went 2-2 with a 4.76 ERA in four starts against the Orioles this season and is 6-4 with a 5.10 ERA in 17 career meetings, including three relief appearances.
* Over is 8-2-1 in Hughes' last 11 starts vs. Orioles.
* Over is 6-2 in the last eight meetings.
* Yankees are 6-2 in Hughes' last eight starts vs. Orioles.
* Under is 8-3-1 in the last 12 meetings in New York.
* Orioles are 29-60 in the last 89 meetings in New York.
* Orioles are 25-57 in the last 82 meetings.
UMP TRENDS - Fieldin Culbreth:
* Over is 8-1 in Culbreths last 9 games behind home plate vs. New York.
* Home team is 4-1 in Culbreths last 5 games behind home plate.
* Orioles are 4-1 in their last 5 games with Culbreth behind home plate.
* Under is 20-7 in Culbreths last 27 games behind home plate.
1. Hughes had most of his success during the regular season at home, where he went 11-4 with a 3.74 ERA in 16 starts.
2. Ibanez is the first player to hit two home runs in a postseason game in which he did not start.
3. The Orioles have allowed 12 runs thus far in the series. Johnson has surrendered six of them.
Detroit Tigers at Oakland Athletics (+131)
Series is tied 2-2
The Oakland Athletics made a habit of dramatic wins during the regular season and have carried that over into the playoffs. After leading the majors with 14 walk-off wins during the regular season, the Athletics had their first of the playoffs in Game 4 on Wednesday, staving off elimination and forcing a decisive Game 5. Their reward is another date with Justin Verlander, who will start for the Detroit Tigers opposite Jarrod Parker.
The Tigers were counting the days until the start of the American League Championship Series with a 3-1 lead in the ninth inning on Wednesday but Seth Smith clubbed a two-run double to tie it and Coco Crisp won it with a single to right two batters later. Oakland was miffed about the postseason format after dropping the first two on the road but have no complaints anymore with a chance to advance in their own ballpark on Thursday night. Detroit has not lost three in a row since a four-game slide from Sep. 7-10.
TV: 9:37 p.m. ET, TBS
WEATHER: The forecast is calling for cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid 50s. Winds are expected blow WSW at 7 mph.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Tigers RH Justin Verlander (1-0, 1.29 ERA) vs. Athletics RH Jarrod Parker (0-1, 2.84)
Verlander dominated in Game 1, allowing one run on three hits while striking out 11 and walking four. The reigning Cy Young and MVP has allowed two earned runs or less in his last five starts dating back to the regular season and has gone 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA in three starts against Oakland this season. Verlander has made nine starts in his career at O.co Coliseum, going 4-4 with a 2.47 ERA.
Parker could not quite match up with Verlander in Game 1, allowing three runs (two earned) and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings. The rookie right-hander’s own error allowed the go-ahead run to score in the third and Alex Avila reached him for a solo home run in the fifth. Parker still managed to post his seventh straight quality start. Like most Athletics pitchers, Parker has been better at home, going 6-5 with a 2.61 ERA in 15 starts at the Coliseum.
* Under is 3-0-1 in the last four meetings in Oakland.
* Tigers are 4-0 in Verlanders last four starts vs. Athletics.
* Under is 5-1 in Verlanders last six road starts vs. Athletics.
* Under is 8-2 in Verlanders last 10 starts vs. Athletics.
* Tigers are 1-4 in the last five meetings in Oakland.
UMP TRENDS - Wally Bell:
* Under is 5-1 in Bells last six games behind home plate.
* Road team is 6-1 in Bells last seven games behind home plate.
* Tigers are 11-23 in their last 34 games with Bell behind home plate.
1. Detroit Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera is 5-for-16 (.312) in the series but has yet to home or drive in a run.
2. Oakland RF Josh Reddick kicked off the rally in the ninth with a single to improve to 2-for-14 with eight strikeouts in the series.
3. Tigers slugger Prince Fielder broke out of a slump with a home run in a 2-for-4 performance. He had been 1-for-12 in the first four games.