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Shaky Tillman, defense doom Orioles to 10-7 loss

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Chris Tillman struggled early and was let down by a key Travis Snider misplay, and the Blue Jays took advantage to win 10-7, sealing a series loss for the Orioles.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles trailed early in this one. Just four pitches in, Tillman had put the Orioles in a 2-0 hole, giving up a line-drive single to Jose Reyes and a two-run just-enough jack to Dalton Pompey. The Orioles were down, as the cliche goes, before most fans even had time to find their seats. Tillman continued to struggle, surrendering a bloop single to Edwin Encarnacion and a single to Dioner Navarro before getting out of the inning. He threw over 30 pitches trying to settle down but never found his groove.

It looked like the Orioles might salvage the game when, in the bottom half, Adam Jones sent a two-run shot over the center field wall that tied it up at 2. But in top of the second, Tillman gave up a similar dinger to Kevin Pillar, giving the Jays a 3-2 lead. No further runs scored in the inning, but in the top of the third, Tillman walked Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson to start things off. Navarro grounded into a fielder's choice that erased Donaldson, but then Russell Martin walked to load the bases with one out.

After Pillar fanned, Devon Travis smacked a long fly ball directly at right fielder Travis Snider. Snider initially broke in on the ball, but then reversed course as he realized he'd misread it. It was too late; the ball just tipped off his glove and fell to the ground while all three runners came into score. Snider was charged with a two-base error, and Tillman's day was done. His final line: 2.2 IP, 79 pitches, 6H, 6R (3 ER), K, 3 BB. Kevin Gausman entered the game and Jose Reyes promptly lined a single into left, scoring Travis and making it a 7-2 game.

I was following the whole game on FanGraphs' scoreboard and noticed something interesting: Tillman seemed to be getting a few horrendous calls by home plate umpire Mike Everitt. Check out the PITCH F/X graphic below. I've highlighted six pitches (the green circles) of Tillman's that were well within the strike zone but were called balls:

Tillman Strike Zone 4/12

Those calls are pretty egregious, don't you think? Now, Everitt did the same thing to Blue Jays starter Drew Hutchison and other pitchers throughout the game. But Tillman had the most strikes taken away from him. I haven't looked up Ryan Lavarnway's framing numbers but I can't imagine he's that bad.

After the Blue Jays took a five-run lead, the Orioles battled back in the bottom of the third. Alejandro De Aza reached on a dropped third strike and took second on a wild pitch to Steve Pearce, who walked. Chris Davis singled in De Aza and Adam Jones singled in Pearce, cutting the lead to 7-4. The Blue Jays made it 8-4 in the top of the 4th on a sacrifice fly by Dioner Navarro.

Brian Matusz replaced Gausman in the top of the 5th and recorded the first 1-2-3 inning for either side. It was a good thing he did, because Travis Snider was just waiting to avenge his earlier mistake. In the bottom of the 5th, Steve Pearce singled and Jones took one for the team to put two runners on base. Up stepped Travis Snider, and no sooner did Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer make comments about him wanting to atone for his earlier error, Snider smacked an opposite-field home run into the first few rows. The fans went wild and Snider's first home run as an Oriole cut the lead to 8-7.

It was a bullpen game from then on out. Aaron Loup replaced Drew Hutchison on the mound and retired the rest of the side. He and Matusz traded perfect 6th inning halves, and then the birthday boy Brad Brach retired the side in order in the 7th. In the 8th, he got Devon Travis to fly out to right (with Snider making it look adventurous out there) and got Reyes to ground out to second base. After walking Dalton Pompey, though, he exited so that Darren O'Day could match up with Jose Bautista. The replacement looked questionable when Bautista homered on a 3-2 pitch, putting the Jays up 10-7 and all but ending hopes of an Orioles comeback. And that, aside from a few more Oriole baserunners, was the ballgame.

The loss drops the Orioles to 3-3 on the year while the Blue Jays rise to 4-2. Tomorrow's game sees the series opener with the Yankees at 7 PM ET. Micheal Pineda will oppose Wei-Yin Chen on the mound.