Chris Tillman dominant in Orioles win
BALTIMORE – For the first time this season the Orioles are 10 games over .500. They’re only 1 ½ games out of the AL East lead.
It’s way too early to get excited.
The Orioles’ 2-0 win over the Boston Red Sox before 39,158 at Oriole Park on Friday night was the second straight over the AL East leaders. It was a lot easier, comparatively than Thursday night’s 13-inning struggle.
For the second night in a row, the bullpen was superb. It’s now thrown nine straight hitless innings, and thanks to Chris Tillman’s six-plus shutout innings, it had a very strong base to build on.
“Chris allowed that to happen,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Tillman equaled a season high with four walks in the first four innings, but had a solid fifth and sixth. He was removed after Jose Iglesias’ leadoff double in the seventh.
“You’re not going to have it every day. Early in the game was definitely a struggle for me. Made some mental adjustments,” Tillman said.
Tillman (7-2) won his fourth straight decision. He allowed two hits in the first six innings, and then after Iglesias’ double in the seventh, Darren O’Day came on.
O’Day retired his three batters and turned the game over to Tommy Hunter for the eighth. Hunter recorded a 1-2-3 inning. Jim Johnson pitched a scoreless ninth for his 24th save.
“Our bullpen’s solid. They have been this year, and I think the starters have all the confidence in the world in those guys,” Tillman said.
The three relievers all worked in Thursday’s struggle, and each came to Showalter to tell him they were ready to pitch.
“We've got a strong bullpen. It's been one of our strong suits last year and hopefully we're continuing that over. And we're trying to do a good job. Right now, things are going our way and we're throwing strikes, throwing the ball where we want it, and we're pitching pretty effectively late in the game. It's going to be on us to continue it and we're up for a challenge,” Hunter said.
The Orioles (39-29) were held to just five hits by starter Ryan Dempster (4-7), but made them count.
Chris Davis led off the second with an opposite-field home run to left, his major league leading 22nd of the season.
Davis says he’s not yet looking at the standings.
“I think it’s still a little early. Obviously you want to continue to play as
well as you can, no matter if you’re at home or on the road, if it’s early or late in the season, but we know we’re close. And any time a division rival comes in you want to try to take as many games as you possibly can. I think we’re pleased with the way things have gone so far and hopefully we can continue it,” Davis said.
In the third, Nate McLouth walked with one out. He moved to third on Manny Machado’s single to right and scored on Adam Jones’ infield single for a 2-0 lead.
Machado extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a first-inning double. He added to his major league lead with a leadoff double in the eighth, his 30th.
Tillman had multiple runners on in the first when Shane Victorino singled and David Ortiz walked with two out, but he got Mike Carp to fly out to right.
In the fourth, Carp walked and Iglesias singled with one out, but Tillman got Will Middlebrooks to fly out and struck out David Ross. He retired Boston (41-27) in order in the fifth and sixth.
In 2012, the Orioles had the identical record, 39-29.
“Sure, you're happy. Satisfied? No. You want to win every game and obviously that's not going to happen in baseball. We're not finished. We've got a goal. It's pretty much the same goal as last year and that's bring a championship back here. We're on our way there but we haven't clicked yet. We're waiting for that little run and it's going to be exciting when that happens, and hopefully this is maybe the start of it,” Hunter said.
As the season nears its halfway point, Showalter doesn’t obsess over where the Orioles stack up in the East.
“I try not to especially when we've lost a couple. It just keeps you grounded on what you have to do every day, and those things take care of themselves. I did look, after tonight we're 13 games away from the halfway point. So that kind of gives you an idea of how much baseball is ahead of us,” Showalter said.
NOTES: Freddy Garcia (3-3, 4.47) and John Lackey (3-5, 3.14) are scheduled for Saturday at 4:05 p.m.
-McLouth tied his career with his 23rd stolen base in the fifth inning.