I think that it would be so easy to look at last night’s game and say that Chris Tillman had an off night. And in fact, he did – Tillman’s line: 1 IP, 6 H, 8 R (6 earned) 3 BB, 1 K. However the fact is that both the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh were dialed in last night. Both starting pitchers were gone early, leaving us with a bullpen game. As the saying goes, it was just one of those games.
Through various base hits, Tillman allowed four runs in the last of the first. Pittsburgh seemed to try that age-old trick of hitting against the shift in that Nick Markakis found himself shading
against where the ball went. However the Orioles led off the top of the second with a Nelson Cruz homer, cutting the lead to 4-1. J.J. Hardy and Jonathan Schoop would follow with singles, and then Tillman would become the first Oriole pitcher to reach base this year with a sacrifice bunt and an error to reach base. The O’s would score on a Markakis sac fly, and a Manny Machado RBI-double. Machado would follow that up with a double of his own, scoring two,and giving the O’s a 6-4 lead in the process.
But Pittsburgh would come back in the last of the inning with four runs to re-take the lead at 8-6. This chased Tillman for the night, and as he left the questions began about his overall health. Chris Tillman had been bothered by a sore groin of late, and the question is whether or not that injury is starting to flare up again. I suspect that they’ll watch Tillman very closely for the next few days, and in doing so they’ll have to rely on Tillman himself to say that he’s not right (if in fact he’s not).
This game appeared to be ready to turn into a shootout, however the two bullpens had a lot to say about ensuring that didn’t happen. Orioles’ reliever Brad Bach pitched four very solid innings of scoreless baseball to bridge the gap to the back end of the bullpen. That will go a long way towards ensuring that the bullpen is rested going into the Cleveland series, as it probably saved at least one reliever from entering the game.
Following a Chris Davis double in the seventh, Nelson Cruz and J.J. Hardy recorded back-to-back singles – scoring Davis. Later in the inning Steve Pearce tied the game back at eight with an RBI-single. Again, chalk this up as just one of those games in that it seemed that pitchers just couldn’t get guys out – on both sides.
Sanchez would smack an RBI-single to right field in the last of the seventh, and Pittsburgh re-took the lead. Luckily for them, they were able to close things out to split this short two-game set with the O’s. However Oriole fans should take heart at the fact that the runs started coming fast and furious this week in the city of three rivers. For the Orioles’ sake one has to hope that they haven’t left those runs up in northwestern PA.
The O’s sent tonight’s starter, Wei-Yin Chen, ahead to Baltimore prior to last night’s game. And based on what the game could have been, the Oriole ‘pen appears to be in fairly good shape. The O’s will be home over the weekend to play a four-game set with Cleveland, who’s circumstances are a lot more nebulous going into tonight’s game. The Tribe swept Detroit in three this week back in Cleveland, however they needed 13 innings to win yesterday afternoon. Not only did they empty their bullpen, but tonight’s starter, Josh Tomlin, had to come into pitch. In fact, Tomlin ended up getting the win.
So the starter for Cleveland is currently TBD. I find it improbable that Terry Francona would start him tonight, but you never know. Odds are they’re trying to figure out who to call up from their farm system or how to shuffle their rotation/bullpen to have someone make the start tonight. So of the two teams, the O’s are probably the more rested. For what it’s worth, if Buck Showalter feels the need to make a roster move prior to tonight’s game, TJ McFarland would in theory be eligible to come back to the majors.
Update: Cleveland has announced that Justin Masterson will start opposite the Orioles’ Wei-Yin Chen tonight at Camden Yards. Manager Terry Francona moved him up a day to make the start.