It's almost as if the Orioles played three games today. The first five innings of the night cap were drastically different than the final five in nearly every facet of the game.
The performance of Chris Tillman was both awful and amazing. The right-hander only managed to go 4.2 innings. He threw 112 pitches, walked three and allowed six hits. However, he did power through; only giving up three earned runs despite having no where near his best stuff. He also posted a season-high in strikeouts with eight.
Control was the enemy today for Tillman. Well, control and Gaby Sanchez. He couldn't locate much of anything as he threw 49 pitches in the first inning. This included a 13-pitch showdown with Sanchez that ended in a weak pop out to the right side of the infield. But Tilly did end up walking three hitters. Two of the walks, to Neil Walker and Starling Marte, were with the bases loaded, leaving the O's in a 2-0 hole after one.
The next three innings were much better from Baltimore's "ace" but he ran into trouble again in the fifth as Andrew McCutchen doubled down the third base line. The ball zoomed past Manny Machado as he had his first chance at a highlight reel play in 2014. Then, Tillman faced off with Sanchez again. This time, Pittsburgh's first baseman won the battle. He tripled to right field, scoring McCutchen, making the Pirates lead 3-0, and knocking Tillman from the game.
On the other hand, Pittsburgh's Brandon Cumpton looked unhittable through the first five innings of the game. He was using a combination of a nasty two-seam fastball and a slider. Cumpton was not afraid to work inside to righties as he brushed back both Steve Pearce and Machado with high fastballs and managed to plunk Jonathan Schoop on the arm with a similar pitch.
The consistent location of the heater made the breaking ball more effective. Oriole hitters seemed timid to reach across the plate. The best evidence of this was in the second inning. Pearce was knocked to the ground on a high and tight fastball. Following a foul ball, Pearce looked silly on a slider breaking towards the left-hand batter's box.
Evan Meek relieved Tillman in the fifth inning and stayed on for the sixth, but wouldn't make it out unscathed. He went on to hit Clint Barmes in the head with an 87 mile per hour cutter. Later, he gave up a bloop single to Ike Davis, scoring Barmes and extending the Pirates lead to 4-0.
That is when the comeback, and game three, began. In the bottom of the sixth inning the Orioles figured out Cumpton. Adam Jones came up with Nick Markakis on first base. Jones doubled to right field on an awkward dive from Travis Snider, scoring Markakis. 4-1 Pirates. Matt Wieters stepped to the plate and singled to left, bringing Jones home. 4-2 Pirates. The game one star, Pearce, followed him with a hustle double to right field. This left Pearce on second and Wieters on third for J.J. Hardy with two outs. The shortstop came through with a single to left field, tying the game up 4-4.
Troy Patton, who was returning from a suspension for violating the league's drug policy, promptly gave Pittsburgh the lead again by allowing a Sanchez double (I'm really starting to not like this Sanchez guy). Ryan Webb came on and pitched well but did allow the inherited runner, Sanchez, to score. 5-4 Pirates.
In the very next inning Markakis showed another spark of "Oriole Magic" as he hit his second home run of the day and tied the game back up, 5-5.
The game remained in a deadlock with each manager playing the "match-up game" the rest of the way. In fact, Baltimore manager Buck Showalter sent starter Miguel Gonzalez out to the bullpen in case of an emergency.
Wieters made sure that wasn't necessary in the bottom of the tenth inning. He smacked a long line drive down towards the right field corner off of right-handed Stolmy Pimental. The ball hung up just long enough to make it onto the right field concourse, putting the Orioles into the win column for the second time today. Well, the game finished after midnight, but you get my point.
Oh, Manny Machado did make his debut tonight. I didn't miss it. Showalter was happy with his performance.
"Manny saved us two or three runs tonight," said the manager in his post game press conference.
As for the box score, there wasn't much there. He went 0-for-5 but looked solid in the field. He was moving easily, especially late in the game where he cut in front of Hardy on a slow roller to make a play on the run.
Following the game, the O's are headed to Minnesota to face the Twins. Word is that O's starter Ubaldo Jimenez is already there so he should get a better night's sleep than the rest of the crew. The Birds hitters will be up against Ricky Nolasco. Adjust yourself for central time; the game is at 8:10 tomorrow night.
- Josh Stinson was outrighted to Norfolk prior to the game in order to make room for Troy Patton's return from suspension. Stinson has already cleared waivers
- Patton made his debut and he's rusty: 0.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER (His ERA for the season is now 27.00)
- Last Oriole to throw 49 or more pitches in an inning before Chris Tillman on Thursday was Tillman himself. He did it on July 16, 2012 at Minnesota and lasted two-thirds of an inning in a 19-7 O's loss
- Here is the video Gary Thorne mentioned on the MASN broadcast about former O Felix Pie.
- Adam Jones broke out of a 4-for-31 (10 K's) slump that dated back to April 21
- Nick Markakis is starting to hit. His average has gone from .275 on April 22 to .306 after today's doubleheader
- Markakis tied Al Bumbry for ninth place on the Orioles all-time hits list with his 1,403rd hit on the home run in the seventh inning
- Evan Meek has been bad lately: In his last 4 outings, he has been charged with nine runs and 10 hits in 2.1 innings
- On the other hand, Ryan Webb looked good. Allowed the inherited runner to score but technically had a "scoreless" outing. That is how 9 of his last 10 appearances have been.
- Tillman's last two starts: 10 1/3 innings, 10 runs, 15 hits, 5 walks, 15 strikeouts
- This was Wieters' third career walk-off home run
All game notes come from Orioles PR, ESPN stats and the collection of O's beat reporters (Roch Kubatko, Dan Connolly, Eduardo Encina, Britt Ghiroli and Rich Dubroff)