Does Chris Davis speculation go too far?
NEW YORK – Chris Tillman came into Saturday’s game with a string of seven straight winning decisions.
He did not make it eight.
Tillman was not at his best, and huffed and puffed in the Orioles’ 5-4 loss to the New York Yankees before 42,678 at Yankee Stadium.
After staking him to a two-run lead, Tillman (10-3) allowed three runs in the fifth and sixth and was saddled with his first loss since May 19 on a day where the game time temperature was 91 degrees.
“It was a tough one for me today. These guys grind away the whole game. They put consistent, good at-bats throughout the game. It wears on you, but at the same time, you know you've got to make pitches,” Tillman said.
The Orioles (48-40) have lost three in a row, and have dropped their second straight series to the Yankees (48-39) in the Bronx this season.
“We’re trying to stay focused on what we’ve got to do. We’re going to have some challenges along the way. It’s that time of the year with the weather and everything else that you’ve got to continue to challenge yourself. We will,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Chris Davis hit a long home run to center that bounced off the wall in the top of the first to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead. The two-run shot was his 33rd of the season and his 84th and 85th RBIs of the year. Both figures equal his totals from 2012.
“Last year, we did a good job of keeping the lead and handing it off to our bullpen. It was definitely a special year, a special run. You can't expect to produce that year-in and year-out. I think it takes a toll on everybody. Any time we have a close game, we feel comfortable with our bullpen and with our lineup. We just couldn't pull it out today,” Davis said.
In the top of the second, Nolan Reimold bounced to Andy Pettitte, but he threw wildly to first, and Reimold was on second. Reimold scored on Alexi Casilla’s double, and the Orioles led 3-0.
The Yankees got two runs back in the bottom of the second. Travis Hafner walked off Tillman to start the inning. Zoilo Almonte and Lyle Overbay singled to load the bases. Luis Cruz singled to score Hafner. Eduardo Nunez flied to Reimold in left to score Almonte, but Overbay was thrown out at third.
J.J. Hardy led off the fourth with a double. He moved to third on Reimold’s fly ball and scored on Taylor Teagarden’s base hit to give the Orioles a 4-2 lead.
Pettitte (6-6) worked 6 2/3 innings, allowing four runs, three earned on nine hits, striking out four.
Shawn Kelley, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera combined for 2 1/3 scoreless innings. Rivera recorded his 29th save.
In the bottom of the fifth, Nunez and Chris Stewart singled to start the inning. Brett Gardner bunted them to second and third. Nunez scored on Ichiro Suzuki’s infield single, though Casilla’s terrific play at second temporarily saved a run. Cano’s single to short left scored Stewart to tie the score at 4.
The Yankees took the lead in the bottom of the sixth on a single by Overbay, his third of the day, a sacrifice by Cruz and a base hit by Nunez.
“I think it's going to be tight all the way through. These guys have got a good team,” Tillman said. “It's pretty clear that they're not going to go away.
Tillman pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing five runs on 10 hits, all singles, walking two and striking out four.
“He had a lot of little things that add up, but he’s capable of better. We’ve seen him real good this year. He didn’t implode,” Showalter said.
NOTES: The Orioles acquired infielder Alex Liddi and international bonus slot No. 3 from Seattle in exchange for international draft slot No. 2. A native of Italy, Liddi has batted .208 in 61 games over three seasons with Seattle. He’s been assigned to Norfolk. Infielder Russ Canzler was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Liddi.
“Alex Liddi is a good defender, has power, and at 24 should continue to improve his game,” Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said.
-Steve Johnson, who’s been on the 15-day disabled list since June 5 with a strained left oblique muscle, threw 30 pitches, fastballs and changeups, in Sarasota, Fla.
-Jason Hammel (7-5, 5.19) faces Hiroki Kuroda (7-6, 2.95) on Sunday.
-Sunday’s game will be on TBS, but won’t be shown in the Baltimore-Washington area. TBS has selected the July 28 Orioles-Red Sox game at Oriole Park for national airing.