BALTIMORE -- Steve Pearce thought he had another big blow for the Orioles in the sixth inning of Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Tigers. Max Scherzer hung a slider over the middle of the plate and the slugger nearly made him pay.
Immediately after Pearce made contact, Scherzer slammed his fist into his glove in frustration, thinking he had just given up his second homer of the game. Pearce clearly thought the same as his line drive rocketed toward the left-field wall. He tossed his bat and took a little hop as he jogged out of the box, only to watch the ball hit near the top of the wall. Suddenly, Pearce had to hurry.
Tigers left fielder J.D. Martinez gathered the ball, turned and fired the ball to second base to gun down Pearce as he slid headfirst into second in an attempt to roll to the right of Ian Kinsler's tag. But it didn't work and what was nearly a home run and should have been a double was the final out of the inning as the O's wasted an opportunity to stretch their 3-2 lead.
"I thought it was a home run," Pearce said after the game. "It hit [the wall], it hit right back to him. I have to do a better job, I should have ran hard out of the box. But it's baseball, stuff happens."
In the end, the play didn't impact the final outcome as the Orioles scored eight runs in the eighth and cruised to a 12-3 victory. That meant Pearce caught a break in what could have otherwise been a turning point for Detroit.
The shot down the left-field line seemed to die in the air just before the wall. Perhaps it would have carried further during the warmer summer months, but even Martinez thought it was heading out of the park until the last minute.
"When he hit it, I initially thought it was probably going to be a home run," Martinez said. "I was either going to play it off the wall or watch it go over the fence. It hit off the wall and it just bounced right to me. I grabbed the ball and I peeked -- he wasn't even at first yet, so I kind of just threw it."
David Wilson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.