Baltimore Orioles’ Chris Tillman outduels Detroit’s Verlander

Courtesy of Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Courtesy of Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports /

Detroit’s Justin Verlander was good – but Chris Tillman of the Baltimore Orioles was just a little better. The O’s defeated Detroit, 1-0.

The Baltimore Orioles have to know that they probably won’t get a more dominant pitching perforance this year than what they saw out of Chris Tillman last night. Tillman’s line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K. Coming into the game, Tillman’s issue was going to be the guy against whom he was going to be pitching: Detroit’s Justin Verlander.

Verlander had never lost a decision against the Orioles at Camden Yards. Now keep in

Chris Tillman
Courtesy of Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports /

mind that’s a very specific way of phrasing my point, because of course it carries an asterik. Verlander started game two of the 2014 ALDS against the Birds, and held them down for the most part. It was a three-RBI double in the last of the eighth against the Detroit ‘pen which sent Camden Yards into a frenzy and the Orioles onto victory that day.

But I digress. Verlander has been one of the best pitchers in baseball, and he showed it again last night. I don’t need to tell folks how dominant Oriole bats can be. But Chris Tillman was just a tick better. Tillman has very quietly picked up from a disappointing season in 2015 and started to become dominant again. That’s to the detriment of the rest of the American League.

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

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  • Normally a player like Adam Jones hitting his 200th career home run (his 197th as an Oriole) would be the story of the game. Because that’s exactly what Jones did in the last of the sixth – drilling a shot to center field, which ended up being the only run of the game. Obviously the Birds don’t win this game if not for that home run blast – but as tough as it is to upstage an Adam Jones home run, Tillman did just that.

    To say that you went eye-to-eye with a guy like Justin Verlander and he blinked first is pretty impressive. That might be a bit harsh to Verlander, given that he pitched a great game also. I’ve said this many times when the O’s have lost games like this, but it’s tough to justify losing a game when you only give up one run. Neither starting pitcher really deserved to get tagged with a loss last night, but obviously there can be only one winner.

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    Tillman remarked after the game that he felt good out on the mound, and he feels that he’s been able to execute all of his pitches (quote courtesy of Andrew Simon,

    "I feel good right now. I think mechanically I’m in a good place and I’m able to execute all my pitches when I need to, not necessarily throwing fastballs in a fastball count, but I’m able to throw some other things that I’m not used to doing. It’s fun right now, and I’ll try to keep it going."

    And I would agree for the most part. Tillman’s at his best when his off speed pitches are working for him. Last season he had trouble commanding his change and slider. This year it hasn’t been an issue. Hence games like last night. He’s always had a good fastball, but power pitchers like Tillman need to have their off speed pitches available to them in order to be effective.

    Next: Baltimore Orioles: Play the role of comeback kids

    The O’s will try to clinch the series victory tonight against Detroit. Mike Wright will get the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Detroit’s Anibal Sanchez. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.