Both Adam Jones and Chris Tillman were drafted by the Seattle Mariners’ organization and later traded to the Orioles in the now famous Erik Bedard trade. While Tillman didn’t make his big league debut until he was with the Orioles, Jones actually did play in some games with Seattle. Nevertheless, both players have never ceased to take advantage of showing their former organization what they gave up to aquire the surly Bedard. Last night was no exception, as Jones went 3-for-4 with a run scored, and Tillman gave the Orioles the solidifying start for which they’d been searching for awhile. Tillman’s line: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K.
The Orioles jumped on Seattle early…and when I say early I mean early in the game not in real time. (Being a west coast game, it started after 10 PM “real time!”) Nate McLouth sent an 0-2 pitch over the right field wall to lead off the game, as the Orioles took an early lead with no intention of looking back. Before the first inning was over the O’s had a 3-0 lead in a sequence that also featured Mark Reynolds getting aboard on an infield single. When those are starting to go your way you know that you’re zeroed in! Adam Jones would do the same during a rally in the second. He would also double in the fourth which led up to Matt Wieters‘ third homer in two days.
The Orioles had the lead from the beginning in this one, but no lead is safe it you don’t get quality starting pitching. Michael Saunders hit a solo homer off of Tillman, who otherwise had a spotless record. The part of his pitching line that stands out to me is the zero walks. MASN’s Rick Dempsey often says that “nothing good ever happens after a walk” (from the perspective of the pitcher that is). My only caveat to that would be that if you walk a guy isn’t it in effect the same as allowing a base hit? I suppose so, however in walking someone you’re also announcing to the world that you’re not commanding the strike zone. (I think I just answered my own question.) That aside, if you don’t let guys on base they can’t score, and that appears to be Tillman’s modus operandi when he plays his old organization!
As I said yesterday, this series has “trap” written all over it for the Orioles, a team of course that’s in contention. However to their credit they didn’t appear to be looking past Seattle, a team that’s well out of contention; at least in game one. The O’s closed to within a half game of the first place New York Yankees, who were idle last night. For what it’s worth, they’re also three games ahead of the Angels for the second and final wild card spot. As it stands now the Orioles would play at Oakland in an “automatic game seven” in the first round of the playoffs. Granted Oakland seems to have the Orioles’ number, the Orioles don’t play well in Oakland, and this would be a one-game deal. However look at if from the opposite standpoint; are the Orioles really a team that a lot of teams would want to face in a potential one-and-done situation?
The Orioles will send Wei-Yin Chen back to the mound tonight coming off of a great start in last Thursday’s marathon game with Tampa. He’ll be opposed by Erasmo Ramirez, who just picked up his first big league win in his previous start.