Ladies and gentlemen, the Orioles have won two games in a row. They’re red hot.
The Birds’ bats busted out of their season-long slump — at least for one night — with an 11-6 trouncing of the Royals on Thursday, securing the Birds’ first two-game winning streak in more than a month.
Let’s get the ugly stuff out of the way first...mainly because it happened first. I’m nothing if not chronological. The Orioles’ starter tonight was Chris Tillman, who originally was expected to pitch Saturday in one game of the doubleheader before being shifted to tonight’s start instead.
Tonight’s outing, unfortunately, was the latest — and perhaps final — crippling blow in the death spiral of Tillman’s career. And it happened quick. As fans were still settling into their seats, Tillman opened the game with a single, wild pitch, two walks, and a Salvador Perez grand slam over the right-field scoreboard, all without recording an out. Four batters into the game, it was 4-0 Royals.
In the Orioles’ dugout, Buck Showalter could only react with an expression of anguish, irritation, and disgust. Join the club, Buck. Tillman received a loud mock cheer from the sparse Camden Yards crowd when he finally retired his first batter.
But this game wasn’t over yet. Far from it. Royals starter Ian Kennedy, who entered the night with a 2.92 ERA, picked a fine night to have his worst outing of the season. Maybe Tillman was contagious, I don’t know. But it took the Orioles only three batters to make up three runs of that deficit with an extra-base hit parade. Trey Mancini and Adam Jones both doubled, and Manny Machado followed with a prodigious clout to right-center for his 10th homer of the season. Suddenly, it was a 4-3 game.
Given new life in the second, Tillman let things get away from him again. In fairness, it wasn’t entirely his fault. Walking the leadoff guy was his fault, yes, but on a potential double-play grounder to third, Jonathan Schoop dropped the throw at second base for the second night in a row. Jon needs to get over this butterfingers phase, post-haste.
Ned Yost, apparently feeling sorry for Tillman, gave away an out on a sac bunt — we will gladly accept your pity, Royals — but Jorge Soler roped a single up the middle to plate two runs. That brought Showalter out to the mound and Tillman off of it.
The final line wasn’t pretty, as has been a recurring theme with Tillman since 2017. He retired only four batters and gave up six runs (five earned), four hits, and three walks. He didn’t strike out a batter. His ERA is now 10.46 in seven starts.
I mean...this has to be it for him, right? How much more punishment can the Orioles, and Tillman, endure? Even for an O’s rotation that doesn’t have a lot of great alternatives, this is beyond the pale.
If this was indeed Tillman’s Orioles’ swan song, I don’t know what else to say that I didn’t already write in my eulogy for Tillman back on April 13 (which was four starts ago, so maybe “eulogy” isn’t the right word). It’s just painful to see a pitcher who was once such an integral part of the Orioles’ success be reduced to this. So I’ll choose to remember the happier times.
Speaking of happier times, the Orioles’ fortunes improved dramatically after the second inning, as their offense continued to throttle Kennedy. The O’s again cut the lead to one when Jones powered a two-run homer in the third.
The Birds took their first lead in the fourth. With two aboard, Chance Sisco — back in the lineup for just the fourth time in 13 games — smoked a double to the gap in right-center, an area of the field that O’s hitters visited frequently on this night. That gave the Orioles a 7-6 edge, which immediately became 9-6 when Mancini lofted an opposite-field two-run homer to the bleachers.
By the fourth inning, Mancini was already three-quarters of the way to the cycle (sadly, he couldn’t notch the triple, going hitless in his last two at-bats). Nick Cicere’s story earlier today about Mancini being primed for a turnaround is looking prescient indeed.
The Orioles had already set a season high in runs, but they added two more for good measure. Anthony Santander contributed an RBI single as a pinch-hitter in the fifth, and Schoop drove in a run on a sixth-inning single. The O’s were a stupendous 6-for-7 with runners in scoring position tonight. That’s a good recipe for scoring 11 runs.
Meanwhile, the Orioles’ bullpen completely shut down the Kansas City offense after the first two innings. Miguel Castro was the hero of the bunch, tossing 4.2 scoreless innings, his longest outing of the season by a large margin (his previous best was 2.1). He gave up four hits and two walks. Castro did an outstanding job of restoring order.
Tanner Scott looked strong, too, striking out four batters in two shutout innings, and Mychal Givens finished things off with a scoreless ninth.
And there it is! Two straight wins! It was the first time the Orioles had won two in a row since April 5-6 at Yankee Stadium. It was also just their third series win of the year. The Orioles have now cracked double digits in wins with their 10th, becoming the next-to-last team in the majors to do so (the lowly White Sox are sitting at 9-25). And they said it couldn’t be done.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for May 10, 2018?
This poll is closed
Miguel Castro (4.2 scoreless innings of relief)
Adam Jones (3-for-5, HR, three runs, three RBIs)
Trey Mancini (a triple shy of the cycle, three runs, two RBIs)