Tillman shines in Orioles’ loss

There’s little positive that you can take away from a 6-1 loss in which your team only posted three base hits. However this is spring training where the score doesn’t really matter…remember?! Obviously you still want to win games even if they don’t count, however the idea is to get everything in order so that you can win games after April 6th. Dana Eveland got the start and went two innings…two innings that Oriole fans probably would have rather not seen. Eveland finished with six hits, three runs (only one earned), one walk, and two strikeouts. However more importantly than the final line score I felt that Eveland tried too hard to nibble at the strike zone. He also seemed to try to be a little too fine, and ended up getting too much of the zone when he didn’t want to.

However after Eveland departed Chris Tillman took the ball for three innings. Keep in mind that Tillman has at times over the past few years been all but wickedly moxieless (a reference to the Orioles’ opponent today perhaps?). Nevertheless, Tillman finished with the following line score: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. As dull and underwhelming as Eveland was, Tillman was equally as impressive. Putting the statistics aside for a moment, Tillman attacked the strike zone with a ferocity that we’ve rarely seen from his likes. Reading various tweets out of Sarasota, it appeared that his fastball was topping out at 95 MPH. With all things both good and bad, we always have to add the disclaimer that it’s only spring training. For all we know Tillman’s only hitting that speed because his arm is still fairly fresh. However the fact that he was consistently in that range is a great sign.

Whereas Eveland’s pitches seemed to sail towards the strike zone on a straight path, Tillman’s pitches appeared to have some late play in the strike zone. Whether or not either one of these guys makes the rotation is another story, however Tillman potentially did something for his own cause today. Speaking for myself, I came away from the entire game with a fairly positive feeling based upon Tillman’s three innings. He’s looked good at times over the course of the past few seasons as well, however I don’t ever remember the crispness that he had out there today. Again keep in mind, it’s not about the final outcome in spring training, but moreso about the in-game stories and strides that are made during the games.

The big concern for me is offensive production. The Birds only mustered three base hits (one of which was in garbage time in the last of the ninth) and one run. That’s two consecutive games in which they only put one run on the board. Yesterday that wasn’t a problem in the sense that Philadephia couln’t score and the O’s won 1-0. However if run production is going to be an issue, it really doesn’t matter how strong the pitching or defense is going to be. Defensively Mark Reynolds committed an error right off the bat in the first inning, however I will say that he seemed to be a bit more nimble in getting to the ball (prior to making the error). Adam Jones saved a potential extra-base hit in the top of the sixth, which shows that he’s in mid-season form.

Tomorrow the Orioles travel to Dunedin, Fla to take on the Toronto Blue Jays. Fans’ next chance to see the team on MASN will come one week from today when the NY Yankees visit Ed Smith Stadium at 7 PM.

Follow me on Twitter @DomenicVadala

Topics: Chris Tillman, Orioles

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