Perhaps the afternoon sunshine above Oriole Park at Camden Yards was all the Orioles needed to break out. One way or the other they broke out yesterday in their 6-2 win over the Tampa Rays, avoiding a sweep at the hands of their division rivals. Early on it looked like it wasn’t going to be the Orioles’ day, as Chris Tillman walked the first two batters of the game. Tampa would load the bases in the first, however Tillman pitched out of it. As I’ve said in the past, pitchers will get themselves into trouble by the very nature of the position. One of the marks of a good pitcher is if he’s able to pitch his way out of trouble. Here’s another interesting thing to consider with Tillman; he found himself in trouble last week in Minnesota as a result of a Mark Reynolds error. He compounded those problems by losing faith in himself and in his teammates. This time around he trusted everyone involved and went after hitters. He got out of the inning.
That Minnesota start appears to be a mirage of sorts, as Tillman’s now 3-1 on the season. His final line: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 5 K. It shouldn’t go unmentioned that he beat “Big Game” James Shields, who’s given the Orioles fits over the years. Shields hasn’t really been himself this year, however he’s still a guy that isn’t to be taken lightly to say the least. Obviously the key to beating anyone is touching them up as best you can. The O’s finally broke out the woodwork in the fifth inning yesterday when Markakis led off with a single, Hardy was hit by a pitch, and Jim Thome walked. While most Oriole fans probably expected Adam Jones to either strikeout or hit a shallow infield pop, Jones came through in the clutch with a two-RBI single. After a Matt Wieters walk, Chris Davis doubled to center field, scoring Jones and Wieters. Last I checked, that’s how the lineup is supposed to work.
Tampa would put two across in the seventh, but Chris Davis would get one back in the last of the inning with a solo homer. The Oriole bullpen once again looked solid, as Darren O’Day, Pedro Strop, and “Dirty Jim” Johnson combined to shut Tampa down in the final three innings. One thing of which to be wary is that Miguel Gonzalez was suffering from flu-like symptoms during his start on Wednesday night, although in no way is he using that as an excuse for his poor outing. By yesterday morning Chris Tillman was feeling similar symptoms, although he went out and pitched (and a gem at that). If there appears to be a bug of some sort going around the Orioles’ clubhouse, that could pose a bit of a problem. The last thing the O’s need is something like that to hit several players at once. As a result of using several relievers on Wednesday night, the Orioles called up Dana Eveland from triple-A Norfolk as a bullpen reliever yesterday, optioning Steve Tolleson. I found that to be an interesting move because barring an injury Tolleson can’t return to the big league level for a minimum of ten days (not that he was playing a heck of a lot with the O’s as it was). Might Tolleson be a part of a potential trade in the next few days?
The Orioles open up a huge series at the yard this weekend with the Oakland Athletics that has major wild card/playoff implications. Roch Kubatko of masnsports.com suggested that perhaps Jim Palmer and Catfish Hunter were pitching the last time the two teams met with these kinds of stakes! Zach Britton gets the ball tonight for the O’s, coming off of a solid six inning outing in Cleveland last weekend. One thing I found interested is that I watched a piece on MASN’s Mid-Atlantic Sports Report yesterday in which Britton and Tillman showed Amber Theoharis how minor league pitching instructor Rick Peterson has improved their mechanics and timing in their windup. So is it no coincidence that both Britton and Tillman are showing much better results on the field? Britton will be opposed by Jarrod Parker of Oakland, who had struggled of late but pitched a gem against NY the last time out. Oakland had won eight straight going into yesterday’s game in Toronto where they finally lost. The O’s have their hands full this weekend.
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