Baltimore Orioles, Chris Tillman broken by a bat


The Baltimore Orioles squandered a gem by Chris Tillman last night in falling to Tampa, 3-1. Now granted, it’s tough to win if you can’t score more than one run. However the Birds led this game for most of the night, and for once it was the bullpen that blew it. But it’s the manner in which it happened that should sit the worst with the O’s – then again, they shouldn’t be surprised. This is Tampa, where the small wonders are celebrated.

If you look at Tillman’s body of work from last night, it’s tough to be much better than he was. Tillman’s line: 7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 4 K. And incidentally that one run that he let up came after he had departed the game in the top of the eighth. But bear in mind that when you’re going through a stretch like the O’s are right now, literally nothing bounces your way. You know the saying – to the victors go the spoils

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Baltimore Orioles: Chris Tillman attempting comeback
Baltimore Orioles: Chris Tillman attempting comeback /

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  • But earlier in the game for once it appeared that perhaps the Orioles’ luck was turning. Keep in mind that while the O’s had struggled in general in New York, they had also had several amazing plays made by the New York defense. Heck, Tampa’s Chris Archer got himself out of the third inning by snagging a line drive right at him. And again, when things get tough the opponents start to make the most amazing plays possible.

    In that fourth inning Chris Davis came up with Manny Machado at first base and one out. Davis hit a tight grounder down the first base line, that ticked off of the first baseman’s glove an went into right field. Manny Machado was able to score on that play, and the O’s took a 1-0 lead.

    As I said, for once it appeared that a break had gone the Orioles’ way. All first baseman James Loney could do was deflect the ball as opposed to making an amazing play on it. J.J. Hardy followed with a single, however while the O’s had gotten a hit with RISP, Davis was held up at third to give the O’s runners at the corners. And on a full count Travis Snider grounded into a double-play to end the inning. The Orioles had a golden opportunity for a bigger inning there, and that would come back to haunt them.

    Courtesy of Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Tillman would issue a lead off walk to Kevin Kiermaier in the last of the eighth, which would summon Darren O’Day from the bullpen. After a great outing, Tillman was done for the night. However O’Day would allow Kiermaier to steal second base. Again keep in mind; this Tampa team does everything in a small way. A walk here and a stolen base there…and suddenly they’ve managed to change the game.

    If you’re the Orioles, you might look to adopt that philosophy just a bit – it may not be as dramatic as home runs, but sometimes it works.John Jaso’s RBI-single would tie the game at one in the wake of that stolen base, costing Tillman a chance at the win. But again, small wonders are what makes teams like Tampa tick…

    …Evan Longoria would reach a moment later on a broken bat infield single. Yes folks, a broken bat single (to second baseman Ryan Flaherty). In the eyes of the Orioles, it’s just a single. But in the eyes of Tampa, it’s an opportunity. And one of which they ultimately took advantage.

    O’Day intentionally walked James Loney to get to Tim Beckham, a move that I found curious with second base open. But Buck Showalter isn’t always conventional, although those types of moves usually pay off for him. Unfortunately not this time – Beckham’s two-RBI single up the middle gave Tampa a 3-1 lead, and they never looked back.

    Again, Tampa had already had their “small wonder fun” with Longoria getting aboard on a broken bat single. But in my personal view the Orioles compounded it by loading the bases. It’s easy enough to say what’s the difference if it’s first or second base that’s open? And that might be a fair question. However loading the bases with first base open (in order to match up) doesn’t add an additional runner in scoring position. In this case it did.

    This game was a reminder of last year’s ALCS, in which broken bat and bloop singles cost the Orioles the series. But with regard to this year, when things aren’t going well those are the things that will happen. The O’s have now dug themselves a hole, however it’s one out of which they can still fight. And that needs to start tonight.

    The O’s will send Miguel Gonzalez to the mound tnight in game two, needing him to be a stopper. He’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Erasmo Ramirez. Note that game time tonight is actually just after 6 PM (as opposed to 7).

    Next: Baltimore Orioles: Time to be sellers?

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