Baltimore Orioles: Chris Tillman struggles in another tie

Courtesy of Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Courtesy of Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

Chris Tillman had a few struggles in his spring debut, a 6-6 tie for the Baltimore Orioles against Toronto.

The Baltimore Orioles’ spring of concern with regard to starting pitching seemingly continued this afternoon in Dunedin against Toronto. Chris Tillman made his spring debut, and has his struggles. Tillman’s line: 1.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 1 K.

Courtesy of Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Courtesy of Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

Tillman of course was injured early in camp, which is why he was unable to get into a game before now. However his pitches seemed to tail out of the strike zone, and Toronto hitters made contact and got on base. Now having said that, he also only gave up two runs. What would have happened had he played longer into the game is unknown, however my personal opinion is that like the rest of the starters his stuff will straighten out by the end of camp.

The Orioles took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning when Pedro Alvarez sent an RBI-single to left field. Toronto’s Bautista would counter in the last of the inning with an RBI-single of his own, followed by another off the bat of Colabello which gave Toronto a 2-1 lead. The good news for the Orioles however was that Tyler Wilson came in to relieve Tillman in the second inning, and got the Birds out of a jam with runners in scoring position.

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

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  • However the O’s would come back to tie things up in the last of the third. Jonathan Schoop‘s RBI-single to left scored the tying run, which left us at 2-2. And the game remained tied – until the last of the seventh. Toronto’s Kotchman hit a pop fly near first base in foul ground which should have been an out. However it was misplayed by first baseman Joey Terdoslavich and catcher Chris O’Brien. The ball fell in, allowing Kotchman to walk on the next pitch.

    A.J. Jimenez was the next Toronto hitter, and he smacked a two-run homer. It’s a small point in a very small position – a spring training game, that is. However it does illustrate how defensive miscues can come back to haunt you in games. The good news for the Orioles is that in the top of the eighth Alfredo Marte smacked a two-run homer of his own to tie the game at four.

    The Orioles would go on in the top of the eighth inning to take a 6-4 lead after back-to-back RBI-doubles from Avery and Rosa, however in the last of the inning Toronto would get a run back on an E4. Unfortunately for the O’s, the last of the ninth met with a homer off the bat of Toronto’s Pompey, which tied the game at six. And after ten innings, that’s exactly how it ended – tied.

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    In terms of statistics, the concern of course was Tillman and his performance. However Tillman offered a rosier view of his outing than probably most fans would (quote courtesy of Steve Melewski, MASNsports):

    "I actually felt pretty good about it. I made a lot of pitches with what I wanted to do. I was satisfied with that. Try to progress from there. What I takeaway is I need to get better with my secondary stuff. My spin. My changeup was really good. Fastball was pretty good. Spin was a little bit behind. Mechanics-wise, I was right on where I need to be."

    I suspect that some Orioles fans might scoff at that type of commentary. However as we’ve said many times, these games are often about working on specific things. And they may not even be specific pitches; it could be plant foots, release points, or something incredibly mechanical such as that. So while he allowed quite a few base runners and didn’t look incredibly sharp, we shouldn’t rush to judgement.

    The Orioles return home to Sarasota tomorrow afternoon as they take on the Pittsburgh Pirates. Kevin Gausman will get the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Pittsburgh’s Juan Nicasio. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.