Blue Jays starter Sean Nolin followed in the footsteps of Kevin Gausman in this way: one day later, he, too, made his major league debut after jumping up from AA for a start. Nolin had some nice enough minor league numbers. They did not matter. The Orioles ruined his debut much as the Blue Jays ruined Gausman's last night, piling up runs en route to a 10-6 victory.
The game was full of offense from the top of the first inning, culminating in a total of 33 hits by both teams. Nick Markakis and Manny Machado led off the game with singles, followed by an Earl Weaver Special from J.J. Hardy, his ninth home run of the season. Nolin found himself facing a 3-0 deficit before he had ever even recorded an out in the big leagues. He'd get out of the inning with no further damage done, but an ERA of 27.00 after one MLB inning is plenty enough damage.
They did not let up in the second inning, either. The first four batters all reached base, with Markakis bringing up the rear and clearing the bases with a double. Machado then flew out, but that was the end of the night for Nolin, who would throw only 35 pitches. He was not fooling anyone. He was relieved by Ramon Ortiz, who had made several spot starts himself. Ortiz fared little better, with the Orioles scoring three more runs off of him in the top of the third inning on a pair of home runs, one by Chris Davis (his major league-leading 16th) and one by Danny Valencia (first of the season).
Davis went 3-for-4 on the night, coming only a triple short of the cycle. He's now the MLB leader in slugging percentage and with a slash line of .337/.426/.723, he trails only Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers in OPS.
Chris Tillman brought a streak of six straight quality starts into the game. He was spotted a 3-0 lead before he ever threw a pitch. He went 3-0 on Melky Cabrera to start off his game, then gave up a solo home run. Jose Bautista hit a single, and it looked like it might be one of those nights. However, Tillman then got angry, dialing up pitches that read 94 and 95 mph on the same gun that clocked Gausman at 99 last night. Did you even know Tillman could throw that fast? It's like he saw Gausman last night and decided velocity is the future. He closed out the inning with two strikeouts.
Did you think that Tillman would settle down after that shaky first inning? Why would you think a silly thing like that? Brett Lawrie opened up the second inning with yet another solo home run. Colby Rasmus followed with a double, scoring on a single by Emilio Bonifacio before an out was recorded in the inning. Bonifacio committed a cardinal sin with Tillman having shaky command: he ran on Matt Wieters. The results were predictable. Wieters has now thrown out 53% of runners on the season. That is superhuman.
Tillman would give up no more runs, but he took so many pitches to get through five innings that he had to leave at that time, snapping his quality start streak. 5 IP, 3 ER is not a great day at the office, especially when you consider that he scattered ten hits and gave up two home runs, and needing more innings from the bullpen is not good. However, it was enough to get Tillman the win tonight thanks to a potent Orioles offense that feasted on a couple of weak Blue Jays pitchers. He left with a 9-3 lead.
Brian Matusz came on for the sixth and got two quick outs before falling apart. He'd give up a walk and two hits in 0.2 IP, during which time two runs scored. Tommy Hunter closed the door on that inning and pitched the seventh and eighth as well. Four hits in 2.1 IP is also not a great day at the office, especially when one of the hits was a Tommy Goes Boom moment in giving up a home run to Adam Lind. But it was a solo homer, and again, though they made us sweat a little, it was plenty enough considering the Orioles scored ten runs.
The last run came when Adam Jones got in on the home run party, his eighth of the year. The two teams combined for seven home runs.
Stat gurus were quick to note during the game that Manny Machado has now had five straight three-hit games on the road, which puts him in the august company where Ty Cobb is the only other player to have ever done so before age 21. This is a marginally more interesting thing to say than comparing Machado to Harper and Trout through the same number of games.
Markakis was 3-for-5 on the night, and Jones, Valencia, and Yamaico Navarro all got in on the multi-hit game party with a pair of hits. Every Orioles starter reached base, with Wieters and Steve Pearce going 0-for but each taking a walk. Markakis has now passed Pearce in OPS, having pulled up to a .780 OPS against Pearce's .724. I will stop mocking him for a while.
On the whole, you won't win a lot of games when you give up 17 hits and six runs. Tonight, the Orioles did just that, and the win counts in the standings the same as any other.
They'll be back in action Saturday with a 1:07 start time. Birdland must suffer the presence of Freddy Garcia yet again. O's hitters will be up against the knuckleball of R.A. Dickey for the second time this season. They'll probably need another offensive powerhouse to get a win, but with this lineup, in this stadium, anything is possible.