Baltimore Orioles: A pleasant afternoon on Tillman Island

Chris Tillman struggled in the first inning yesterday. He walked the first two batters and later had the bases loaded, putting the game in a precarious state from the beginning. However he pitched out of danger, which is a huge key. I tell people all the time that pitchers will get themselves in trouble – it’s the nature of the position. The good ones will also get themselves out of trouble. Tillman’s line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 K.

I suspect that Tillman would have liked to have gone deeper into the game, however keep in mind that this was only his first start of the season (after having been injured). More importantly, as a starter he put his team in a spot to win the game. and he drew glowing reviews from Showalter after the game (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

It was a real testament to his pitchability, searching for something he could survive with early where he could get in step a little bit. Chris has got a lot of weapons. I remember when we first had him it was really a 2 1/2-pitch mix. Now, it’s a cutter/slider and he went to that some later on. He went to that some later on. Changeup, he found a feel for that. He’ll tell you I don’t think he really felt good about the command of his fastball for most of his outing, but he and Frankie found a way to survive.

After getting out of a jam in the top of the first, the Orioles’ offense took over in the bottom of the inning. They took a 1-0 lead on Jones’ sac fly-RBI, and never looked back. Later in the inning Mancini added an RBI-double, giving the Orioles a 2-0 lead.

Jones would also add an RBI-single an inning later, as would Machado. And that closes the book on the scoring in this game. For awhile it looked like the Orioles were going to run them out of the park, but Chicago themselves settled down their own pitching situation as the game went on. But the damage was already done.

Alec Asher pitched nearly four innings in relief for the Birds yesterday, making one wonder if he’ll need to be optioned. Yesterday would have been Asher’s normal turn in the rotation, however with Tillman’s return he was relegated to the bullpen. Showalter indicated that he hoped he wouldn’t have to option Asher because he certainly didn’t deserve that.

However with a few exceptions (such as starters and various relievers), every pitcher knows that his status as a big leaguer is shaky at best with the Orioles. They utilize the entire 40-man roster an then some. So a guy like Asher knows that he could be headed down if for no other reason than the team needs a fresh arm. It’s unfortunate at times, but it certainly can happen.

The Orioles will open up a two-game series at home with Washington this evening, which will also mark the return of Matt Wieters to Oriole Park at Camden Yards – but as a visitor. Kevin Gausman gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Washington’s Gio Gonzalez. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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