Chris Tillman didn’t walk anyone tonight, which is great. And he struck out four, which is okay. But while he cruised through the first two innings tonight, the Rockies nearly batted around in the third and put the Orioles in an early 4-0 hole. The offense couldn’t get much done against Chad Bettis and a parade of relievers, and the team wound up on the wrong side of a 6-3 loss.
The third inning started poorly for Tillman. Daniel Descalso opened with a single, and former Oriole Nick Hundley flied out. But Charlie Blackmon and D.J. LeMahieu singled back-to-back, with Chris Davis diving and just missing LeMahieu’s ball. That loaded the bases for the lightning-hot Nolan Arenado, who’s very close in talent level to the Birds’ own Manny Machado. Thankfully Arenado popped out on an infield fly rule, leaving just Carlos Gonzalez as the difference between a near-miss and a catastrophe.
Gonzalez worked the count to 2-2 before rocketing a double down the left-field line and over the wall. With everyone going on contact the hit could’ve scored three runs, but the ground rule double limited the damage to two. LeMahieu had to hold at third. Not that it mattered to red-hot rookie Trevor Story, who slapped a 1-2 pitch for a single into left field, scoring LeMahieu and Gonzalez to make it 4-0 Rockies.
The Orioles threatened in the very next inning but couldn’t seal the deal. J.J. Hardy hit a one-out double and Adam Jones followed with a walk. Hyun-Soo Kim was forced out a first base but moved the runners over. Unfortunately Arenado’s AL counterpart hit a check-swing chopper that Hundley fielded easily for the third out.
The Rockies struck again in the fifth. LeMahieu singled and Arenado doubled to bring him in. Arenado moved to third on a groundout by Gonzalez and scored two pitches later on a wild pitch to Story.
With the score now 6-0 Rockies in the bottom of the fifth, Adam Jones delivered a two-run shot to deep left field to get the Birds on the board 6-2. That, and Jones scoring from third on a wild pitch in the 8th inning, was all the Orioles could push across the plate.
Tyler Wilson relieved Tillman to start the sixth inning and pitched four strong innings of relief. He didn’t seem to be throwing any harder, but he got plenty of ground balls and struck out three batters. That’ll do.
The loss moves the Orioles to 58-41 while the Rockies rise to 48-52. Each team will try to take the rubber match tomorrow. Jon Gray is scheduled to face newly minted starting pitcher Dylan Bundy.