Like Wei-Yin Chen on Thursday, O’s starter Chris Tillman came back to earth against Kansas City Saturday. After winning four consecutive starts, Tillman (L, 5-2) was hit hard Saturday by the Royals.
The two teams sat through a rain delay of over three hours prior to first pitch. Once under way, the Royals treated Tillman rudely. For the second time this series, Royals leadoff man Alex Gordon went deep in the game’s first at bat (8). In the top of the second, Lorenzo cain led off with a hit, and Salvador Perez followed with his second homer of the series (8), and it was 3-0 Royals.
Billy Butler hit his second homer of the series (24) with two outs and none on in the third, making it 4-0.
Tillman lasted into the sixth. With two outs, Tillman hit Perez with a pitch, then walked Jeff Francoeur on five pitches. Showalter made the move with Tillman having thrown 109 pitches, 58 for strikes. Miguel Socolovich was summoned, with the O’s down 4-0, 2 out and 2 on in the sixth. The game was still within reach. Offensively, the Orioles had struggled to deliver the big hit at that point, leaving runners on first and third in the first inning, and first and second in the fourth against Royals starter Luis Mendoza (W, 6-8). But with the game within reach, and the O’s propensity for the comeback, hope was certainly not lost.
By the time Socolovich finally recorded the third out of the sixth, the game’s complexion changed entirely. Eric Hosmer picked on Socolovich’s first pitch—a 79 MPH change up, and singled to center for a 5-0 lead. Francoeur, who’d advanced to third on Hosmer’s hit, then stole home as part of a double steal, making it 6-0. Before the Orioles would score their first run, Gordon went deep again (9). His solo shot leading off the seventh made it 7-0, and really put things out of reach.
The bird put up a three-spot in the bottom of the seventh. Wilson Betemit lead off with a walk, and moved to second on a single from Chris Davis. Manny Machado, the talk of the town in Baltimore after his 2-4 debut and his two-homer night number two, delivered again.
Machado grounded a 91 MPH fastball into the left field corner for his first major league double, knocking in Betemit. Omar Quintanilla followed Machado’s two bagger with a two-run single, and the Orioles pulled to 7-3, which is where it would end.
The Orioles will try to earn a split in the series Sunday at 1:05. Pitching for Kansas City, it’ll be former Oriole Bruce Chen (8-9, 5.51). Tommy Hunter (4-7, 5.55) goes for the Orioles.
- Nate McLouth, batting third, picked up a pair of hits, as did Adam Jones.
- Machado now has 5 hits, 4 for extra bases.
- 2 solid innings of relief in the combined efforts of Matt Lindstrom and Troy Patton.
- It’s easy to get nervous about Tillman when he has an outing like this, but there is something about the way he is carrying himself that says he’ll be OK. Brian Matusz, Zach Britton, and even Jake Arietta sometimes have that “deer in the headlights” look…kind of a lost gaze when things break down. Tillman looks like a guy who has certainly figured some things out, even in adversity.
- Tough day for Matt Wieters…0-3 with a walk. He left 3 runners on, and committed his 9th error.
- It’s always good to pick out a guy or two on the other team that you will not let beat you. Against Kansas City, those guys are Alex Gordon and Billy Butler. This series, those two have combined to hit .310 with 8 runs, 5 home runs and 7 RBIs. Throw in Catcher Salvador Perez’s numbers this series (3/11, 3R, 2HR, 3RBI), and that’s more than half of the Royals run production in the first three games.
- Socolovich probably shouldn’t see action if the result of the game is still within question. A mop up role, where someone is needed just to eat innings and get to the end of the game, seems a better place for Socolovish’s talents.