The Orioles bounced back from their big loss last night with a solid three-run win that wasn't without its bumps. Chris Tillman had another good night despite looking shaky at times. The Orioles scored five runs despite Manny Machado, Adam Jones, and Chris Davis going 0-for-11, and the bullpen shut it down despite not being used in the customary manner.
Wieters is good! For a night, anyway
Taijuan Walker is a good pitcher who is having a good start to the season, and so it was fun watching the Orioles hit back-to-back home runs off of him in the second inning. The first was a bomb to left field by Mark Trumbo, his 12th of the year. He continues to be a pleasant addition to the team, don't you think? The second home run came from a less likely place, as Matt Wieters went onto the flag court to follow Trumbo's home run with one of his own. Just like that, a two-run lead!
The Orioles scored again in the fourth inning and again Wieters was in the middle of it. After Trumbo singled, Wiet doubled to left field to knock in the O's third run of the night.
We took a break from the Wieters show in the fifth inning and got an intermission known as the Hyun Soo Kim and Taijuan Walker Variety Show. With one out, Walker issued Kim a base on balls. Kim should have been out at second on a terrible bunt by Joey Rickard, but Walker instead threw the ball into center field. Kim then moved to third base on a ground out, which put him in perfect position to score the Orioles' fourth run when Walker unleased a wild pitch.
But enough of that, I know you want to hear more about Matt Wieters! Because of that I'll gloss over the fact that the Orioles had the bases loaded with one out only to see Rickard ground into a double play to end the sixth. It was not a banner night for Joey Baesball.
With a two-run lead in the eighth inning, Matt Wieters decided the Orioles needed some insurance. He doubled and went to third a single from defensive replacement Ryan Flaherty. That set up Wheels Wieters to zoom home on a shallow fly ball to right field. Honestly he should have been out at the plate on the sac fly, but the catcher couldn't hold on to the ball. Wieters is just that good!
Tillman's Gutsy Start
After last night's debacle of a start by Ubaldo Jimenez, the Orioles needed Tillman to step up tonight. They got what they needed from him, although Tillman wasn't quite as sharp as we've seen him in other starts this season. He struggled through some of his innings but ultimately gave up only two runs in 6 1/3 innings.
His nine-pitch first inning had me feeling good, but he was in trouble right after that. In the second he issued his first of three walks to Kyle Seager on the night and gave up a single to Chris Ianetta, but got out of the jam.
After the Orioles gave Tillman a two-run lead in the bottom of the second inning, Tilly got to work right away giving it back. He gave up just one hit to the Mariners in the third inning, but unfortunately it was a home run. And in the fourth he let the tying run score as Nelson Cruz doubled and eventually came in on a sac fly.
With three straight innings with baserunners it felt like Tillman was pitching on the edge, but he managed to hold the Mariners to just those two runs. He pitched a 1-2-3 fifth and the only blemish on the sixth inning was Seager's third walk of the night.
Those long innings did take their toll on his pitch count, and he finished the sixth inning with 102 pitches. It seemed a natural break point to bring in the bullpen, but Buck Showalter sent Tillman back out for the seventh where he promptly gave up a leadoff double. He did strike out his next batter, and that was it for his night. Brad Brach came in with a runner on second and one out and struck out the next two batters, closing out Tillman's night.
An Unorthodox Bullpen
It seemed odd that Buck Showalter elected to keep Tillman in the game after the sixth inning, but when he sent Brad Brach back out to pitch the eighth after he got to the last two outs in the seventh, it seemed clear that either Darren O'Day or Zach Britton weren't available for the game. And as Britton got up to warm up, we all realized it was O'Day who wouldn't be seen tonight.
It was never discussed during Showalter's postgame press conference if Darren O'Day wasn't available for a particular reason. I was hoping it would be, but alas. He did say that because Britton hadn't pitched in four days they knew they could go to him in the eighth inning if they needed to.
After two strikeouts in the seventh, Brach just couldn't keep it together in the eighth inning. He loaded the bases with just one out and he looked like he had lost it. It was time to see Britton, just a little bit earlier than usual.
Britton is so good. Don't you love having him on the team? He came into a situation unlike what he usually sees and it didn't faze him in the least. He struck out pinch-hitter Dae-Ho Lee and got a ground out from Chris Ianetta to shut down an M's rally before it could result in any runs.
When Ketel Marte started the bottom of the ninth with a double down the left field line, I admit that I worried for just a second. This is a safe place for me to admit that, right? But I needn't have worried. Britton continued on like there wasn't a runner on, striking out the next batter and getting two ground balls back to him for the final outs of the game.
What a win! My emotions were up and down in this one, I don't mind telling you. But it all turned out as it should, and tomorrow at 12:35 the Orioles will try to take the series before heading out to the west coast for the weekend.