All good things must come to an end. So it is too with any given Orioles winning streak. They have to lose a game eventually. Five wins in a row was nice. They never had much chance to take it to six, though, because Chris Tillman, as he has been so many times this year, was bad from the get-go. Eventually, the O's lost to the Tigers, 7-5. It wasn't as close as it looked.
The threat of rain and the ultimate arrival of rain had the game off-kilter from the get-go. There was a 40 minute delay due to an anticipated rain storm before the first pitch. The rain did not arrive before the game actually began.
If you've watched Tillman at all this year, you know he's been no good at all. It's not by accident that he last won a game on May 7 - the first game he pitched at the MLB level all year. There is nothing surprising about his continuing to struggle. Sometimes it seems like the only people who are surprised by them are Orioles decisionmakers who keep tossing him out there.
Anyway, I mention all of this about Tillman because he allowed two home runs in the first inning, including a leadoff home run hit by Detroit's Ian Kinsler. That home run, Kinsler's tenth of the season, at least could give you an early idea of how the game was going. In fairness, Tillman has never in his career been good in the first inning. This is even worse this season.
Justin Upton added to the early Tigers lead with another home run, a shot to deep center field, Upton's 19th of the season. Sometimes it seems like you have to try to give up two home runs in three batters to start a game.
The rains arrived not long after Upton's home run, a storm ferocious enough that play had to be halted for nearly an hour. The decision to delay the game's beginning was not a triumph of meteorology. It was, sadly, not enough rain to get the game's early results erased in order to start over tomorrow. The hour rain delay also did not knock Tillman out of the game.
With nothing doing for the O's offense in the top of the first inning, Tillman came out for the second inning and got right back to doing what he has done best this season: Putting men on base. Victor Martinez led off with a double. Tigers outfielder Mikie Mahtook reached on an infield single: Two on, no out for Detroit.
It was a disaster in the making... at least until catcher James McCann hit a hard ground ball right at Manny Machado. The O's Platinum Glover snagged the grounder, stepped on third base and fired to Jonathan Schoop at second. Schoop relayed quickly to first to beat the slow catcher to the base for a triple play. Yes, it's true!
This was in fact the second Orioles triple play of the season, the first time they've had two triple plays in a season since 1973. You can watch it for yourself here. It was great.
Not so great: Tillman continuing to pitch in the game. Not content to put two on with none out, Tillman loaded the bases with none out in the third inning after allowing a leadoff single and walking the next two batters. This brought Upton to the plate, who had already homered.
Tillman got the ground ball he needed off of Upton. It went right to shortstop Tim Beckham - and then, as MASN's Gary Thorne is fond of saying, right through the wickets. Perhaps Beckham took his eye off the ball, anticipating getting the double play started. Two runs scored on the error and there were still none out.
A wild pitch moved up the runners, allowing both to score when Miguel Cabrera doubled to right field. That was enough for manager Buck Showalter and Tillman's night came to an end. He got just six outs, three of which came on one pitch. Tillman had to eat seven runs, five earned, while giving up six hits and two walks. There is nothing nice to say about his 8.10 season ERA.
The O's hitters busied themselves with scratching back almost immediately. Machado plated the first O's run with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third. Schoop drove in a second run that inning with a double. A Welington Castillo sacrifice fly gave them a third run, with the fourth scoring on Machado grounding into a fielder's choice in the seventh.
After so many POFOs (Productive Outs for Orioles,) it was a save situation. They got even closer still in the eighth inning when Beckham hit his first Orioles home run, a shot that barely cleared the out-of-town scoreboard. Beckham had the killer error but he was 3-4 with a double and a home run in the game.
With two outs, Castillo singled, so the O's did have the tying run to the plate. However, they would get no closer. Craig Gentry was left in to bat against right-handed reliever Edward Mujica. He struck out. The top of the order went down in order against current Tigers closer Shane Greene and that was that.
I haven't mentioned Miguel Castro yet in this recap. He deserves a lot of credit for the game ever being close. Castro came on to replace Tillman in the third inning and by the time he left, he had finished the eighth inning.
A reliever pitching six innings? Crazy! Castro was able to do it since he allowed only one hit and one walk in those six innings. The last four innings he pitched, the Tigers went down in order. That's impressive and it launched "Can Castro be in the rotation next year?" talk. There are probably worse choices.
The O's attempt to get back to .500 was thwarted in this game. They'll have to win the next two to get there again. Winning two starts with winning one, which they will try to do on Friday night as the series continues at 7:05. Kevin Gausman and Justin Verlander are the scheduled starting pitchers.