Baltimore Orioles: Final spring night on Tillman Island


Regardless of how things went, last night’s game against Pittsburgh was going to be Chris Tillman‘s closing act in terms of spring training 2015. The good news for Baltimore Orioles fans is that if the game was a diagnostic test of sorts, Tillman passed with good reviews. Tillman’s line: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 8 K. Tillman made one bad pitch, and it resulted in a second inning two-run homer off the bat of Pedro Alvarez to give Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead.

However the key stat for Tilman is the eight strikeouts. Especially through five innings, it’s tough to do much better than that. Tillman was also consistently getting his chanegup and off speed pitches over for strikes. That’s a great sign for the O’s as they head towards the regular season. If Tillman can use all of his pitches and get them over home plate for a strike, it’ll strike fear into the hearts of opposing teams.Â

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Tillman said the following to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports after he left the game:

Courtesy of Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

"I think we’re all ready to get this thing going. I feel like spring training lasts forever. It gets longer and longer every year. I think we’ve got a few things we need to get better at. I feel good about where we’re at."

The Birds got  back to within 2-1 in the last of the third on an Evereth Cabrera solo homer. Cabrera has potentially played his way onto the final roster given the fact that J.J. Hardy will have to start the season on the DL. Following Tillman, the O’s would trot Brian Matusz out to pitch for two innings of his own, and with good results. Matusz of course has been the constant subject of trade rumors for the Orioles, who would be willing to move him for the right return.

The O’s would tie the game at two in the last of the seventh when the aforementioned Cabrera would triple Manny Machado home, and Alejandro De Aza‘s RBI-single would give the Orioles a 3-2 lead. However Gregory Polanco would ground into an eighth inning double play with runners at the corners, which scored a third run for Pittsburgh.

Buck Showalter would bring in Darren O’Day and Zach Britton in the eighth and ninth innings so as to  mimic how he would manage the bullpen in a real game. While O’Day got into some trouble and yielded the one run (which was actually charged to Matusz), it worked exactly as one would expect. The O’s threatened in the ninth, however they were unable to put a run across. After a scoreless 10th the game ended in a 3-3 tie, the Orioles’ second of the spring.

The Orioles have now played their final spring games against every team NOT named the Atlanta Braves. In a bizzare scheduling quirk, the Birds will head to Orlando this evening to take on Atlanta, with Wei-Yin Chen starting on the bump for the O’s. He’ll be opposed by Alex Wood. Atlanta will return the favor and play the O’s in Sarasota on Friday night (a game carried by MASN), and the O’s will head to Orlando once again to close out Grapefruit League play on Saturday afternoon. Of course a minor storyline will be Nick Markakis playing against his old team, that being the Orioles.

Next: Baltimore Orioles: Looking to the Future