Chris Tillman struggled a bit out of the gate in yesterday’s 7-3 win in Oakland, however there’s one very important thing to note: he minimized the damage. Tillman loaded the bases in the second and third innings, and yet only surrendered one run in each. It’s very easy to suggest that a pitcher can minimize the damage by not getting into trouble in the first place. However that’s unrealistic; as I’ve said before, the nature of the position is that you’re going to get into some sort of trouble at some point. What separates the men from the boys is how you handle that when it happens. Tillman’s final line: 6 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 7 K. Needless to say, a little bit of “Tillman Island, MD” came to Oakland today!
Following a Manny Machado walk in the top of the fourth, Nick Markakis sent a deep shot over the wall in right to tie the score at two. The O’s then promptly took the lead for good one batter later as Adam Jones‘ solo homer made the score 3-2. Oakland looked very similar to the Baltimore Orioles circa 2009-10 in that nothing seemed to be going right for them. They’re a ball club that isn’t playing well right now, and they come across as being afraid of their own shadow. They had the lead yesterday, and yet the Orioles were allowed to swoop in and take control of the game.
Buck Showalter didn’t want Matt Wieters to catch yesterday given that it was a day game after a night game, however he had Wieters in the lineup as the DH with Taylor Teagarden starting behind the dish. However in the last of the sixth Josh Donaldson fouled a pitch off of Teagarden’s hand; Teagarden immediately removed his glove and started walking to the dugout. He seemed to know right away that it was an injury that would at the very least force him out of the game. That meant that Wieters was forced into catching duty, but the Orioles had to surrender their designated hitter and insert Tillman into the batting order. (Teagarden was later diagnosed with a dislocated thumb.) Granted this situation can just be filed under the category of just one of “those things, one has to wonder if Showalter will think twice about listing Wieters as a DH again given that the pitcher would have to hit if the catcher gets hurt.
With Brian Matusz warming in the bullpen, Buck Showalter opted to let Tillman take his turn at the plate. Tillman looked at three pitches and walked back to the dugout, his day over. At the time, the Orioles only had a two-run lead. Showalter probably wanted to keep the couple of bullets that he had in his holster in case Oakland tied the game (or took the lead) and he needed a pinch hitter later on. It was also probably a bit of gamesmanship on Showalter’s part, keeping Oakland guessing as to who would come out to pitch the seventh inning.
Nate McLouth, the on-base/RBI machine, led off the eighth with a solo home run, which was followed by Manny Machado and Nick Markakis covering the corners for the Orioles. Chris Davis sacrificed Machado home, and the Orioles led 6-3. Oakland put one across in the last of the inning, only to have McLouth return the favor in the ninth with an RBI-single. Being a non-save situation, the Orioles opted to send Pedro Strop out to the mound in the last of the ninth to avoid using Jim Johnson. Strop hit the first batter in the bill of his helmet, and proceeded to put runners at first and second before Showalter had to bring Johnson into the game. Johnson loaded the bases, but then retired the next three hitters to close out the game. There is some concern about Strop, as he’s been hot and cold thus far in 2013. The O’s really did not want to use Johnson yesterday in a non-save situation, so hopefully that’s not something that comes back to bite them today or at some point in the near future.
With yesterday’s win, the O’s won their first series at the Oakland Coliseum since July of 2007. They’ll go for the series sweep in Oakland this afternoon in another 4 PM eastern time start before heading off to Seattle. Incidentally, the last time the O’s swept a four-game series in Oakland was 1987! Miguel Gonzalez gets the nod this afternoon, coming off of a successful start last week against Toronto. Gonzalez will be opposed by Bartolo Colon, who’s been a huge thorn in the Orioles’ side over time. He was also suspended last year for PED’s, and is trying to resurrect his career at a late stage in Oakland. Taylor Teagarden is expected to be put on the 15-day DL prior to today’s game, however that won’t formally happen until his replacement on the roster arrives to be with the team. While no formal announcement or indication has come from the Orioles, it’s assumed that triple-A Norfolk catcher Luis Exposito will be the corresponding roster move.