The Orioles survived another terrible start from Chris Tillman today, rallying from three runs down to send the game to extra innings before getting the win. Tillman pitched into the sixth inning and gave up six runs thanks in part to two homers and four walks. It was ugly. But the Orioles got to Brewers starter Kyle Lohse for four runs over 6 2/3 innings and staged a two-out rally in the 9th inning that ultimately led to the win.
Tillman's start was just another in a disturbing trend this season. He had trouble keeping the ball down, and even when he did he couldn't get it into the strike zone. It looked like a bloodbath from the start, even with only one run scoring in the first inning. Jean Segura tripled and came in to score on a double from Ryan Braun. His first out was a long fly ball from Jonathan Lucroy that was hit very well. Tillman followed that with a walk, the first of four on the day. But thankfully Mark Reynolds did his former team a solid by striking out, and Tillman got out of the inning with another long fly ball out.
After Tillman worked around a leadoff double to record a scoreless second, he got to bat to first in the top of the third. National League! He struck out, of course, but Nick Markakis and Manny Machado singled to set the table for Adam Jones. Jones has been quieting the haters lately with not only some good hits, but also some nice, patient at bats. He didn't need to work any pitch counts this time, though, with a second-pitch triple into left field. Markakis and Machado scored, then Adam himself came in to score on a double from Nelson Cruz. The infield was playing in and Cruz hit it just past Segura and hustled his way to second.
The Orioles looked poised to score more, but thanks to some nice defense from shortstop Jean Segura and a TOOTBLAN from Cruz got the Brewers out of the inning with no further damage. Steve Pearce hit a ground ball deep into the shortstop hole. Cruz ran on the pitch and Segura fielded the ball and threw to third base, where Cruz was tagged out by Reynolds. That gave J.J. Hardy an opportunity, and he singled to left with Pearce moving up to second base. New Oriole Nick Hundley grounded to almost the same place that Pearce did, and Segura was able to get the force on Pearce at third. If there hadn't been a runner on second, Hundley would have gotten an infield hit.
Tillman took the two-run lead the offense handed him and squandered it almost immediately. He issued his second walk of the day in the third inning, and it came in to score on a sac fly from Mark Reynolds. Two more runs came in in the fourth inning, both from batters that Tillman walked. They came in to score on a double from Segura, and the O's lead was gone.
The O's batters couldn't do anything against Lohse, sending just nine batters to the plate in the fourth-sixth innings. Tillman managed to get through five innings and it was a little shocking that he came in to start the sixth, since even his outs had been loud all day. He got the first out in sixth on a line drive right to Jonathan Schoop at second base, but if that was a sign of trouble, it wasn't enough to get Buck Showalter out of the dugout. The next two batters, Khris Davis and Lyle Overbay, made the Orioles pay for leaving him in with back-to-back home runs. Sigh. That made the score 6-3 in favor of the Brewers, a lead that felt insurmountable. (Thankfully it only felt insurmountable to me, not the Orioles themselves).
Once Tillman came out of the game, the bullpen put up zeroes for the rest of the game, giving the O's time to come back. Schoop got it started in the seventh with a solo home run, cutting the lead to two. After a scoreless eighth, the Brewers brought in their closer, Francisco Rodriguez, to get the last three outs. You may remember his time with the Orioles last season, when he wasn't very good at pitching. So far this year, that hasn't been the case. In 25 games before today, he had given up runs in just three. His 17 saves lead the league and he had a 1.80 ERA. Emphasis on had.
Rodriguez retired Hardy and Hundley and it was all down to Schoop. Schoop took a curve ball deep for his second home run of the game! Schoop!
Still down by one, the O's sent Delmon Young in to pinch hit for the pitcher (National League!), who came through with a single. With David Lough pinch running, Nick Markakis launched a ball to left-center field. It split the outfielders and Lough flew home with the tying run. Wow! Down to their last out and behind two runs, the Orioles had tied it. It's nice watching them score runs, isn't it?
Obviously Rodriguez wasn't paying attention to the Scout on MLB.com's Gameday, because it had this to say:
|3||In play, run(s)||91||2-Seam Fastball||39||5.5"||
Oops! Better luck next time. Rodriguez lost control after that and walked Manny Machado, but Adam Jones made the last out on a ball that he gave a long ride to. No complaints about his at bat, though.
Hundley made a big error in the bottom of the ninth that made it look like the Brewers were going to walk off. With Lucroy on first base with one out, Carlos Gomez dropped a surprise bunt in front of the plate. Hundley rushed his thrown and it went into right field. NOOOOO! The runners moved up to second and third on the misplay.
The Brewers replaced Lucroy at third base with the speedy Elian Herrera and pulled the infield in. Reynolds came up to bat but wasn't able to stick it to his old team. He hit a soft line drive to Hardy at shortstop, and for some reason Herrera was charging home. He was nowhere near third base so Hardy tossed the ball to Machado for an easy double play. Thanks, Brewers!
On to free baseball! New pitcher Rob Wooten again got two outs. Nelson Cruz hit a ball to the left field corner that looked like extra bases, but Khris Davis made a great catch to steal a hit. Pearce struck out swinging for the second out, but Hardy came through with a double. It looked like Davis might make an even more spectacular play than they did on Cruz's at bat, but he couldn't keep the ball in his glove. Hundley made up for his earlier error with a single that knocked in Hardy for the go-ahead run.
Zach Britton came in for the save and while he struggled a bit with his control and allowed two base runners, he induced an inning ending double play. O's win! I can't even believe it.
The Orioles and Brewers play again tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. with Wei-Yin Chen pitching against Matt Garza. New father Chris Davis will be back in the lineup and hopefully ready to crush some homers.