These are the kinds of games that make you hate baseball. Or hate Manny Machado and J.J. Hardy for being hurt. Or hate Buck Showalter for putting the weakest defender of the three reserves who must start at the hot corner. No matter who you choose to hate, you hate the Orioles, because Chris Tillman's brilliant, ace-like outing was wasted on a game full of bad defense, bad baserunning and all-around bad baseballing.
Let's start with Chris Tillman, because Chris Tillman didn't suck. At all. Chris Tillman threw eight brilliant innings, allowing zero earned runs with six K's to just one walk, and needed just 105 pitches to do it. And he basically would've thrown a nine-inning shutout if not for the defense, but we'll get to that. Aside from getting into a few too many two- and three-ball counts in the early innings, there was absolutely nothing to criticize about Tillman's pitching tonight. He had the Blue Jays off-balance and hitting into weak contact all night long.
Not to take anything away from Tillman's counterpart, Dustin McGowan, who pitched a hell of a game himself. McGowan allowed more baserunners than Tillman, throwing 6 1/3 scoreless with five hits, one walk and just two strikeouts, but he kept the Orioles off-balance as well. The Orioles got some warning-track flyballs, and they gifted McGowan a scoreless inning (more on that in a moment as well), but he did what he needed to do and the Orioles didn't make him pay for any of his mistakes.
The fourth and fifth innings were the pivotal moments in this game. In the fourth inning, the Orioles defense suddenly chose to remind us that Manny Machado and J.J. Hardy are really important to the Orioles defense. Both Blue Jays runs in the game were unearned, and there were three awful throws to allow them, even though only two errors showed up on the scorecard. First, Jose Bautista reached base on a grounder to third. Jonathan Schoop's throw sailed over Chris Davis's head to allow the runner onto base. After a clean single from Edwin Encarnacion put runners on first and second, Schoop made another throwing error on an Adam Lind grounder, letting Bautista score. The indignity was complete on a tailor-made double-play ball where Ryan Flaherty bounced the second throw past Chris Tillman, who was covering first base, allowing the second run to score when the inning should have ended.
Schoop might be the young guy on the roster right now, but I hope he's buying Tillman a nice steak tomorrow.
For all that the defense let the team down, baserunning blunders didn't help. If the defense had supported Tillman's sturdy pitching performance, a smart fifth inning could've granted the Orioles a run. With two outs, the team put up consecutive well-hit singles from Nick Markakis, Delmon Young and Chris Davis. But on Davis's single, third base coach Bobby Dickerson held up Nick Markakis at third, while right fielder Bautista came up slowly and threw to third, assuming that Markakis was an automatic run. Adam Jones came up with the bases loaded and lofted a soft fly ball to center to end the two-out rally.
There's an alternate reality where the Orioles won an exciting pitcher's duel, 1-0, based on sturdy defense, timely hitting and sharp baserunning. Then there's the reality I ended up in, where I hate everything. Chris Tillman, you are awesome. The rest of you Orioles have officially let me down.