You know that the starting pitching has been good when the rhythmic applause begins to rise from the crowd the moment that the manager pops out of the dugout to relieve the starter. In the top of the eighth last night that rhythmic applause was a full-fledged standing ovation for Tillman before Showalter even made it to the mound. The 21K plus in attendance – which was more than I had see at the yard on a Monday night in quite some time – appreciated the effort that Tillman put forth, and they showed their appreciation as he exited. Tillman’s line: 7.1 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 2 K.
Tillman started off the game with his fastball hitting 90 or 91 MPH, however a few innings into the game he had raised his velocity to 93 or 94. Since coming up from the minors just prior to the all-star break, Tillman’s been dominant. However so has the Orioles’ new-look rotation for the most part. Last night was no exception, as Tillman was most definitely dealing with an extra bit of moxie. He didn’t allow a runner to reach base until the fourth, and didn’t surrender his first base hit until the fifth.
Obviously if you get starting pitching like that, you’re going to win unless you can’t score runs. Luckily for the Orioles, they found a way to put three on the board which cut out the 9th inning or extra inning dramatics so to speak. After reaching base on a base hit, Lew Ford scored from first base on Mark Reynolds’ RBI-double. Reynolds of course scored on Nick Markakis’ two-run homer onto the flag court in right field to give the Orioles a 3-0 lead. Seattle barely had enough wherewithal to mount a rally, that is until Tillman started to tire in the top of the eighth. Kawasaki singled Thames home to cut the lead to 3-1, however he made an unforced error trying to advance to second base. Adam Jones threw the ball back into first (behind the runner), and Mark Reynolds threw him out at second.
With one out already recorded, that ended up being a huge play because at that point there were two outs and nobody on as opposed to one out and a guy on first. However as Oriole fans know all too well from years past, when you’re not a good team you’re going to see mistakes like that in games. Seattle did put runners at the corners with two outs in the ninth, however Jim Johnson got Thames to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the game, netting the Orioles their 58th win of the season. With New York’s loss to Detroit, the Orioles also picked up a game in the AL East standings, as they’re now 5.5 games back of first. They’re also a half game back of the L.A. Angels for the final playoff spot (if the season ended today).
You’re only as good as your next day’s starter, so the Orioles have to hope that Zach Britton is a lot better tonight than he was in New York last week. The southpaw takes the mound knowing that he’s perhaps pitching for his job. Granted there doesn’t appear to be anyone knocking on the door at Norfolk to get back up to Baltimore, however Britton still has to pitch well tonight or he might be heading back to Norfolk. He’ll be opposed by Blake Beavan, who’s won four straight decisions since being recalled from triple-A Tacoma. Beavan will give up the long ball on occasion, so if the O’s can hit a few of those they could chase Beavan and his 5.06 ERA early in the game.
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