Longtime readers will remember my affinity for a certain dark and stormy September night, during which Christopher Tillman first caught my eye. Tillman was just a 21 year old top prospect getting his first exposure to the major leagues, and he struck out Nick Swisher on a beauty of a curveball. Such was the joy of this one pitch that not only am I still talking about it as if Tillman didn't lose almost all of his luster in the ensuing years, but Nick Swisher let out an obscenity audible enough to perfectly punctuate the memory for me.
Tonight, Tillman showed more of that luster-lacking mediocrity, getting banged around in the first and showing almost nothing worth mentioning stuff-wise. He also recovered and, indeed, ended up getting Swisher to strike out swinging on a nifty change-up. Swisher once again did not seem to care much for his performance in this plate appearance.
Anyway, much can and should be written about how Chris Tillman is basically walking proof of both "There is no such thing as a pitching prospect" and "pitchers develop non-linearly", but you guys all know all of that stuff. No sense dwelling on the bad after a night that feels, all in all, pretty good.
Three Oriole hitters saw six total pitches in the top of the first inning. Nine Yankee batters saw 36 pitches and scored 5 runs in the bottom of the first. I'm not sure I can come up with a more depressing way for this game to begin. But, as Michael Lewis once wrote, "The pleasure of rooting for Goliath is that you can expect to win. The pleasure of rooting for David is that, while you don’t know what to expect, you stand at least a chance of being inspired." The Orioles big comeback in the second inning included Chris Davis' first career grand slam, deep into the bullpens. That easy power, yeah, it's inspiring.
0-5 became 7-5 and then 11-5. Many empty seats could be seen in Yankee Stadium, and many Bronx Cheers could be heard from the remaining fans. The Orioles - improbably and obstinately - are two games out of a playoff spot.