Baltimore Orioles back in first on the arm of Chris Tillman
The Baltimore Orioles defeated Boston 3-2 on the heels of a great outing by Chris Tillman to take over sole position of first place in the AL East.
The Baltimore Orioles got exactly what they needed in the way of a quality start out of Chris Tillman last night. And I can’t stress the exactly part enough. He went deep into the game, mowed down opposing hitters, and in this specific case battled in a pitcher’s duel (which is rare for a game at Fenway Park). Tillman’s line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 7 K.
When you’re pitching against a starter the quality of Boston’s Price and you outduel him, you’re in rare air. From Boston’s perspective Price pitched a great game as well. Just not as good as Tillman. And while this was a game based on defense, Oriole bats were slightly more alive than their Boston counterparts.
The Orioles jumped out of the gate early when Manny Machado hit a two-run homer in the first inning. That seemed to indicate that this could be an offensive type of game with lots of funs scored. Nothing could have been further from the truth! That 2-0 lead held up until the last of the seventh when Boston’s Bradley hit a solo homer to cut the lead to 2-1.
Call to the Pen
At that point Tillman had battled to well over 100 pitches, so it was understandable that he might have been starting to tire. But he finished the inning, and in the top of the eighth was granted an insurance run as Jonathan Schoop smacked a solo homer over the green monster. Boston attempted to rally in the last of the inning when Ramirez cut the lead to 3-2 with an RBI-single. However the Orioles used Zach Britton in a five-out save and he shut Boston down following that run.
For what it’s worth, I raise my eyebrows each time Showalter brings Britton in prior to the ninth inning. I’m not suggesting that I know baseball better than any MLB manager (especially one as accoplished as Showalter), however it’s certainly unconventional to use a closer like that. It doesn’t happen everyday however, and in this case it started by having Britton match up against Boston’s Ortiz. Maybe this is one of those situations where it’s better to be outside the box as opposed to by the book!
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Coming into the game both teams were tied for first in the AL East, but now the O’s are in sole possession of first place with the win – for now. There are still two games left in this series. And with that said there’s a long way to go in this season. But the fact that the Orioles are competing so well against Boston to this point is a good sign.
Next: Will Chris Davis continue his impressive home run streak?
The series continues this evening at Fenway Park. Kevin Gausman will be on the mound for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Steven Wright. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.