The only bit of good news there is to say about the Orioles right now is that you don’t have to watch them. You can do anything else that will make you happier than inflicting the latest demonstration that the Orioles are in dire straits with their pitching staff. They got blown out by the Yankees on Saturday night. They deserved to get blown out. They probably deserve to get blown out tomorrow, too.
The Orioles are approaching with uncomfortable speed a point where they are going to have to reckon with the fact that their pitching staff is a stump dump fire with little hope of improvement on the horizon.
Chris Tillman provided another shove towards this regrettable conclusion by turning in the absolute worst start of his big league career. The most polite way to sum it up is to say that Tillman totally sucked on Saturday night. Other, more colorful language choices are also readily available.
What other words can be used to describe an outing in which a starting pitcher gets shelled for a bewildering nine runs in only 1.1 innings pitched? Tillman faced 14 batters and got just four outs! The Yankees batted .636 against Tillman tonight and got on base at a .714 clip... oh, and since they hit three home runs, they slugged 1.700!
This disaster is not out of line with how Tillman has looked in his other starts this season. The body of work put together over his seven MLB starts and four rehab starts is one where he has been giving up baserunners like it’s going out of style. He has little command of anything, except when he hurls belt-high meatballs right down the middle of the plate.
If you were among the unfortunate number of people who tuned into the game from the beginning, you were very briefly lulled into a false sense of security by Tillman retiring the first two batters he faced in the game on just seven pitches.
We were fools to believe in anything other than Tillman’s career-long first inning struggles. Even at the best of times he has been bad there, and this year is not the best of times for Tillman by far.
After getting those two outs, Tillman fired one of those belt-high meatballs to world-destroying slugger Aaron Judge, who did not miss the pitch. Judge ripped into that juicy piece of meat, sending it into the left field seats in excess of 121 miles per hour. For those scoring at home, that is the hardest-hit ball in the Statcast era, which is from 2015 until now. That’s fitting for how Tillman is pitching this year.
This kicked off a Gashouse Gorillas-esque waltz around the bases for the Yankees. There was nothing unlucky about it. They got Tillman for six runs in the first innings. He then retired the first batter he faced in the second inning before throwing eleven straight pitches out of the strike zone.
The 12th pitch in the sequence, a 3-0 toss in to Yankees second baseman Starlin Castro, resulted in a crack of the bat and Orioles radio broadcaster Joe Angel immediately announcing with disgust, “Home run!” The Orioles were in a 9-0 hole. That was finally enough for him to get the hook.
How do you think it feels to be Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks, the only two Yankees batters Tillman was able to retire, both of whom made outs against Tillman twice?
Pitchers following Tillman didn’t fare a whole heck of a lot better on the night. Stefon Crichton, who, in fairness, has no business being summoned in the second inning, gave up three runs in two innings pitched. Edwin Jackson gave up two runs on five hits in 1.2 innings. Jackson has yet to do much to justify the O’s adding him to the roster, but hey, somebody has to soak up these lost cause innings.
Later on in the game, Mike Wright hit a batter and then gave up a laser home run to Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, who launched a home run into the Orioles bullpen for his ninth dinger of the season. Four of the five Orioles pitchers on the night failed the Matusz Test - that is, they started the game with an already-high ERA and ended with an even higher ERA.
Amazingly, one pitcher did not allow any runs. Shout out to Richard Bleier for keeping the Yankees off base over two innings in which he struck out two batters.
Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino briefly flirted with a perfect game, retiring the first 12 Orioles he faced with his offense shredding Tillman and Crichton. Thankfully, the truly embarrassing potential outcomes were closed off in the fifth inning. Mark Trumbo led off the inning with a walk, ending the perfect game bid, and Trey Mancini hit a one out single to break up that no-no.
Severino went on to give up just two hits over seven innings. With only 89 pitches thrown, he surely could have kept going, but for Yankees manager Joe Girardi, why keep pushing the starter in what was then a 14-1 lead?
Only a Chris Davis Eff You Home Run broke up the shutout against Severino. Later, against reliever Giovanny Gallegos, Joey Rickard, who came into the game as a blowout defensive replacement, added a second FUHR for the second Orioles run.
As the innings plowed on in bleak desolation, a series of defensive changes had Davis spend a little while at third base. Later still, Trumbo, the starting designated hitter, was brought out to play an inning at third base. Nothing mattered at that point, so why the heck not, right?
The Orioles got only four hits all game. They are now 5.5 games back in the division, though thanks to a loss by the Indians, they still hold on to the second Wild Card spot in the AL, somehow.
A Sunday afternoon 1:05 contest will provide an opportunity for the Orioles to avoid a sweep at the hands of these Yankees. Disappointing Orioles starter Kevin Gausman will pitch opposite a Yankees starting pitcher who is only known not to be Masahiro Tanaka.