Baltimore Orioles: Gonzalez gone, Chris Tillman strong
Chris Tillman finished his Grapefruit League schedule with a strong outing for the Baltimore Orioles in tonight’s loss to Detroit. Tillman got tagged with the loss and his pitch count was elevated, however count this as a positive spring outing on “Tillman Island.” Tillman’s line: 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 3 K.
Tillman allowed a solo home run off the bat of Detroit’s James McCann in the second inning. Jose Iglesias would drive in a run following Tillman’s departure with a single in the fifth – and a run scored from second on a Machado throwing error. For what it’s worth just prior to the error Machado made a dazzling stop on a bouncer on the line, combined with a great pick by Davis at first.
But in a nutshell, that was the ballgame. The O’s would put one run across in the last of the ninth on a Janish RBI-single to fall 2-1. However the main bit of news with regard to the game was that Tillman looked good. He did allow a few base runners, and pitched into a mini-jam in the second – but he also pitched out of it. He had some zip on his fastball, and he was hitting his spots with his off speed pitches. Aside from the pitch count, it was all one could ask of the final spring tuneup for an Opening Day starter.
Call to the Pen
However the big news of the day for the Orioles came off the field in a sense. Prior to the game, the Birds gave Miguel Gonzalez his unconditional release. He now has 48 hours to clear waivers, and if he isn’t picked up he’d be a free agent. As camp has gone on it became more and more evident that Gonzalez’s spot in the rotation could be in jeapardy. However he did still have a minor league option, and I also thought the bullpen could have been a landing spot for him…
…needless to say, I’m shocked that they outright released him. And I tweeted as
much before tonight’s game. I suppose I question whether or not something along the lines of a trade for a starting pitcher might not be in the works. I don’t say that with any sort of advance knowledge, just a theory – probably nothing, for the record. But needless to say, I’m shocked that he’s totally gone from the organization.
The one concern coming out of tonight’s game could also be that this game could foreshadow some future struggles for the Orioles. Every team goes into a funk from time to time over the course of 162 games. Good pitching will almost always shut down good hitting (most of the time). So if the O’s end up facing some good pitching here and there and the bats get shut down and/or minimized, could this team fall in some games that look like this?
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That may sound a bit alamist given the fact that this is a team that we know can mash. They’re going to score runs more often than they aren’t – good pitching or not. But every team will find itself in close games here and there – the O’s will need to know how to handle that when the time comes.
Showalter also said that he’s not planning on playing Hyun-Soo Kim until he gets his situation straightened out. He’s still apparently trying to decide whether or not to accept a minor league assignment as opposed to going back to Korea. But to go back to a point I made above, could there be a trade in the works? Could that be why the Orioles are keeping him out of the lineup?
The O’s will close out the Sarasota portion of the Grapefruit League schedule tomorrow afternoon at 3 PM. They’ll then spend the night in Sarasota, and fly to Philadelphia early Friday morning for the final spring training game which will be against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. For what it’s worth, the Philadelphia forecast is calling for an 80% chance of rain on Friday evening.
Next: Baltimore Orioles: Miguel Gonzalez with a strong outing
The aforementioned finale in Sarasota brings Atlanta back to town. Yovani Gallardo will make his final start of the spring, and he’ll be opposed by former Oriole Bud Norris. Game time is set for just after 3 PM.