BALTIMORE – Before Saturday’s game, Buck Showalter talked about the difficulty of facing pitchers few, if any of his players had ever seen.
The New York Yankees were starting Shane Greene, a 25-year-old right-hander from central Florida. It was Greene’s second major league start.
Greene allowed just four singles in 7 1/3 innings as the Yankees beat the Orioles 3-0 before 46,667 at Oriole Park.
It was a 4:05 p.m. start, a time that Showalter and players generally don’t like. Combine that with a pitcher who they were facing for the first time and pitching brilliantly. That meant a really hard late afternoon.
“There's no substitute for getting in the box off them,” Showalter said. “Four o'clock start, one o'clock start, seven o'clock start, you're going to have success if you do what he did today.”
Nelson Cruz, Chris Davis and J.J. Hardy combined for nine strikeouts, seven of them against Greene, who struck out nine Orioles.
“We knew it coming in that he would present a problem,” Showalter said.
Nick Markakis had a hit off Greene and another one off David Huff, and didn’t use the start time as a crutch.
“The clouds were pretty nice to us today, and kind of eliminated the shadows. Ended up being a nice day. Just a bad outcome,” Markakis said.
The Orioles countered with Chris Tillman, and he delivered a decent performance, but his offense couldn’t provide him any help.
Tillman allowed three runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings with three walks and four strikeouts. He was an All-Star a year ago, but this year he goes to the break with a 7-5 record and 4.11 ERA.
"I think the one area that's been more of a challenge for him is the walks. He'd like to get that a little under control. But he's done a better job in the first inning or two. I think it bodes well hopefully for the rest of the season because he seems to be getting more consistent mechanically as we go. I hope that's the case. We're going to need him,” Showalter said.
In the third, Francisco Cervelli led off with a single. Brett Gardner hit into a force, and Derek Jeter singled Gardner to second. With two outs, Mark Teixeira doubled down the right field line, and Gardner scored. Jeter was out on the throw from Markakis.
Greene (2-0) baffled the Orioles (51-42) until the fifth when Manny Machado and Ryan Flaherty singled with two outs. Greene struck out Nick Hundley to end the inning. He had six strikeouts through five innings.
Tillman didn’t allow another hit until the sixth when Jacoby Ellsbury walked and Brian McCann singled with one out, but the Yankees didn’t score after Ichiro Suzuki hit into a double play and Brian Roberts struck out.
Nick Markakis and Steve Pearce singled to start the Orioles’ sixth. Adam Jones hit into a double play and Nelson Cruz struck out.
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Kelly Johnson singled to lead off the seventh, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a two-out single by Jeter. T.J. McFarland replaced Tillman after the single and allowed a double to Ellsbury to give New York (47-46) a 3-0 lead.
Tillman has pitched better of late, but suffered from lack of run support at times.
“The way I look at it I could have and should have been better early. I can only control what’s happening now. To be able to be a little more consistent with the delivery, mechanically, I think that’s starting to show. I’m looking forward to the second half,” Tillman said.
Greene struck out nine and walked two. He gave way to Huff, who allowed a single to the only batter he faced, Markakis. Shawn Kelley retired Pearce on a fly to left and struck out Jones. David Robertson pitched the ninth for his 23rd save.
Showalter thinks Tillman will be better in the last part of the season. It’s an opinion that Tillman shares.
“It was kind of a rough start, but it’s not really how you start it’s how you finish. I think we are only getting better as a pitching staff and it’s been fun to show up every day and watch these guys go to work. So I’m happy with the fact it is getting better, yeah,” Tillman said.
NOTES: Markakis and Jones each recorded assists, throwing out Jeter and Ellsbury to end the third and seventh. The Orioles have 22 outfield assists.
-The Orioles have been shut out seven times, six at home.
-The Orioles recorded their seventh sellout, and it was the second largest crowd of the season, just 18 fewer than opening day.
-Chase Whitley (4-2, 4.94) faces Kevin Gausman (3-2, 3.51) at 8:05 p.m. on Sunday. The game will be on ESPN.