The Orioles and White Sox engaged today in one of those nice, low-stress wins that you just need every once in awhile. Chris Tillman finally returned to the team and the Orioles got a few timely hits and a few lucky hits to get the victory.
A Successful Debut
Chris Tillman made his season debut today after missing the first month and despite some early troubles, it was ultimately a positive return for the O’s veteran.
The first inning has always been a bugaboo for Tillman, and today was no exception. In his career he has an ERA of 5.04 compared to 4.13 for his career. With everyone holding their breaths as we waited to see what the return of Tillman would really mean, he immediately got himself into trouble. He walked the first batter on four straight pitches and followed that with a walk to the second batter. No! Panic!
Slugger Jose Abreu was next and he helped Tillman out. Tilly also went to a three-ball count against him but he swung at several pitches outside the strike zone, including a pop up to Chris Davis for the first out.
A soft ground ball to Manny Machado loaded the bases but Tillman was able to escape by getting the next two batters. It took Tillman 23 pitches but he got out of the first without allowing a run.
After that rough first inning, Tilllman settled down and while he certainly never looked dominant, he looked good enough to me for his first start back. He was never particularly efficient with his pitches and he only had one 1-2-3 inning (the fifth), which is how he ended up at a 93 pitch count after just five innings.
Depending on how Tillman feels in the coming days, I think it is safe to call this game a success for him. His final pitching line was 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 K. He threw 93 pitches, 52 of which were strikes. His fastball velocity averaged about 90 during his start, never dipping below 88. He touched 92 at least once (per MASN) in the 5th inning. That’s not ideal, but it’s a start.
Quintana Struggles Early; Orioles Capitalize
Just like Tillman, Jose Quintana had a rough start to this game. Unlike Tillman, he could not escape the first inning unscathed. With one out, Quintana issued back-to-back walks to Adam Jones and Manny Machado, then Mark Trumbo beat out a throw on a ground ball after shortstop Tyler Saladino hesitated on where he should throw. Trumbo was initially called out but it was reversed on replay.
That play set the table for the Orioles to score their first runs of the day. Chris Davis followed Trumbo with a long fly ball to right field that allowed Jones to tag up and score the first run of the game. Trey Mancini singled to right field to knock in the second run. That was the start of a productive day for Mancini, who went 3-for-4 in the game.
The Orioles got a little help from the BABIP Dragon in the second inning as they added on two more runs. Backup-backup catcher Francisco Pena started things with a solid ground ball single up the middle, then with one out both Joey Rickard and Jones each hit a bloop to the outfield that just fell in for hits. Rickard’s bloop went to left field while Jones blooped his single to right. The second bloop knocked in Pena and put two runners on for Machado.
Machado hit a sharp ball that made it past the diving shortstop. That scored Rickard and made the score of the game 4-0, which is where it would stay. Both teams had runners throughout the remaining innings but none came around to score.
Long man/spot starter Alex Asher was well rested in the bullpen and he came on to replace Tillman in the sixth inning. He did a great job saving the bullpen as he pitched into the ninth inning, allowing just one single in each of the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings.
I was hopeful that Asher could pick up the rare three-inning save, which doesn’t require the lead to be three runs or fewer. But after getting a quick first out in the ninth he allowed two base runners, bringing the tying run to the on deck circle. Buck Showalter went to Brad Brach, who faced just one batter and induced a game-ending double play.
And with that, the Orioles completed their second sweep of the season and have won their fourth game in a row. They face a tough week ahead with four games against the Washington Nationals, so it’s good to get those wins in the bank.
Who is the Most Birdland Player for Sunday, May 8th?
This poll is closed
Chris Tillman (looked decent in his season debut)
Alec Asher (3.1 IP out of the bullpen)
Trey Mancini (3-for-4, RBI)
Joey Rickard (3-for-5, 2B, SB, only extra base hit for the O’s)