So much for starters having trouble going deep into games. Chris Tillman undoubtedly gave the Baltimore Orioles the best start of the season thus far last night. Tillman’s line: 9 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K. That three strikeout number is kind of a big deal in terms of pitching a complete game. Many people think that the more strikeouts you have the better you are; while that certainly means you’re pitching well, strikeouts also tend to eat up pitches. So if you’re going for a complete game, it’s probably better to induce ground ball and fly ball outs – which is what Tillman did.
The O’s caught a bit of an early break in the fourth inning; Manny Machado laid down a bunt which caught Kansas City starter (and former Oriole) Jeremy Guthrie off guard. Machado was going to be safe at first, but Guthrie’s errant throw allowed Machado to move into scoring position with nobody out. Machado would proceed to get to third on Guthrie’s wild pitch, and he scored on Nelson Cruz‘s RBI-single. Chris Davis, who had drawn a walk, also scored on a fielder’s choice-RBI by Steve Clevenger.
Adam Jones would score on a Nelson Cruz sac fly in the sixth to run the lead to 3-0, and Chris
Davis would hit his third homer of the season in the eighth to give the Baltimore Orioles 4-0 lead. The rest was all Chris Tillman and the defense behind him. The Orioles were solid in the field last night, and that begun and ended with Tillman. Buck Showalter had two relievers warming up in the bullpen in the eighth, however he sent Tillman back to the mound to complete the game (117 pitches in total). He allowed a lead off hit in the inning, but induced three consecutive fielder’s choices in order to close the game.
Coming into the game there were concerns about the condition of the Orioles’ pen given the fact that they were used rather heavily in the Detroit series, and even on Thursday night in the series opener in Kansas City. While he qualified for the win, Wei-Yin Chen only went into the sixth. However a start like the one Chris Tillman provided last night will almost immediately freshen up your bullpen. It was the type of night where a reliever could sit back and watch the game with a cup of coffee or perhaps a soda. Most importantly, it was a night
where most of the relievers could just rest.
The O’s did make a roster move before the game, calling up reliever Brad Bach and sending Evan Meek back to triple-A Norfolk. I’m not exactly sure what the purpose was of having Meek on the roster for a couple of days, however it’s probably just a move to keep the arms out in the ‘pen fresh.
The Orioles also announced last night that they had signed veteran relief pitcher Heath Bell to a minor league contract. Pending a physical, Bell will report to triple-A Norfolk and pitch in the bullpen. While Bell has had his struggles over time, it’s only a minor league contract so it really doesn’t hurt the Orioles if he doesn’t work out. It’s just another depth move more than anything else.