Casilla chips in with first home run of the season
BALTIMORE – Buck Showalter had an interesting decision to make before Tuesday night’s game. Did he go with Ryan Flaherty, who was in his best groove of the year at second base? Or should he try Alexi Casilla, who had some success against Cleveland starter Justin Masterson?
Showalter gave Casilla the start. The second baseman rewarded him with a key three-run home run in the seventh that helped lead the Orioles to a 6-3 win over the Cleveland Indians before 20,924 at Oriole Park.
The Orioles, who had lost four straight and seemed headed to another defeat at the hands of Masterson, woke up in the seventh.
Trailing 3-1 with just three hits in six innings against Masterson (9-6), Adam Jones led off and was hit by a pitch. Chris Davis powered his 28th home run of the year to left to tie the score at 3.
Matt Wieters walked, and after J.J. Hardy popped to short, Chris Dickerson singled, and Casilla who had just 11 career home runs, hit one to right, and suddenly, it was 6-3.
“I feel real good for him. I’m happy for him,” Showalter said. “We knew runs were going to be at a premium.”
It was Casilla’s second career home run against Masterson, and his first with the Orioles (43-35).
“I think everybody’s pulling for him right there, obviously trying, hoping that he’ll just get a base hit. Then he does that, provided a little bit of a jolt of adrenaline for everybody,” Davis said.
Casilla’s home run helped save Chris Tillman, who started off poorly, but ended well.
Tillman (9-2) has won six straight, and after a rough beginning, allowed three runs on four hits in seven innings. He walked four and struck out six.
“It was definitely a grind for me tonight,” Tillman said. “I was off the first couple of innings. I found a way to get back into it.”
Tillman said catcher Matt Wieters’ guidance was paramount.
“I don't know how he does it sometimes, but he did an outstanding job getting me back on track tonight, and he was able to keep it close," Tillman said.
It was a game that Tillman stood to lose. He wasn’t going out there for the eighth, and then suddenly a five-man inning.
“It was very exciting. Very exciting. It was a big game for us, big team win. Played good defense, hit the ball well, later in the game, I think, you know, things started coming together for us," he said.
Troy Patton pitched a scoreless eighth, and Jim Johnson pitched the ninth for his 27th save, his 12th straight.
Tillman was in trouble from the start. Mike Aviles, Cleveland’s second batter singled, then he walked Jason Kipnis and Nick Swisher to load the bases with one out. Michael Brantley’s sacrifice fly scored Aviles.
In the second, Tillman allowed the first two hitters to reach, but retired the next three to keep the score at 1-0.
In the fifth, Michael Bourn doubled to lead off. Aviles’ bunt moved Bourn to third, and then Kipnis homered to left, his 10th of the season for a 3-0 Indians (39-37) lead.
Tillman ends the evening with nine wins. Only three pitchers in the American League: Detroit’s Max Scherzer (11), Oakland’s Bartolo Colon and Tampa Bay’s Matt Moore, each with 10 have more.
“I focus on what I need to do. I don’t really look into that. More of my wins are team wins,” Tillman said.
Showalter doesn’t want Tillman to get ahead of himself, but he’s pleased to see his development.
“I think it's hopefully very young in his career and he's trying to establish himself as somebody that his teammates and the organization can count on. Chris has an upper echelon makeup and approach. I'll say that,” Showalter said.
Showalter referred to Tillman’s “sticktoitiveness,” and Davis said it was a “gut check” performance.
Davis has watched Tillman grow, and he thinks his teammate could soon be one of the top pitchers in the league.
“I think he’s well on his way,” Davis said.
“This year, he’s really had some good outings, and 9-2, is something to proud of.”
Masterson easily retired the first 12 Orioles to face him.
Jones led off the fifth with base hit. He moved to third on Davis’ single and scored on Hardy’s infield out.
Masterson pitched 6 ½ innings, allowing six runs on six hits, walking one and striking out seven.
NOTES: Manny Machado doubled in the sixth. He has 35, 10 more than the next leading hitter.
-Brian Roberts was 2-for-4 in his first rehab game for Norfolk. He had a single, double and two runs scored.
Jason Hammel (7-4, 5.30) pitches against Scott Kazmir (4-4, 5.37) on Wednesday.