The Orioles must start thinking about playoff rosters. Sure, Buck Showalter will tell you the focus is on these lat five regular season games, and that’s good. They should be. They’d BETTER be. But make no mistake, tt’s a good bet that the playoff roster is a subject being kicked around. There are sure things on the roster, and there are those on the bubble. And then, there’s the pitching staff.
If you want an idea of what the starting rotation is going to look like, obviously, you don’t even need to pick up a copy of the Opening Day roster. Brian Matusz? He’s in the ‘pen. Tommy Hunter? He’ll be in the ‘pen also, IF he makes it. Jason Hammel? If he’s healthy, you’ve got to believe he’s in. Jake Arrieta? He won’t be on the post season roster. Wei-Yin Chen has a September ERA of over 5, but he MUST be in the rotation. Right?
So we’ve got Hammel (maybe) and Chen. Who else? Joe Saunders? Probably. He’s a veteran who’s been there. And starter #4 will come down to two guys who didn’t break camp with the Orioles this spring. Miguel Gonzalez, who pitched in Wednesday’s 12-2 win over Toronto. And then, there’s Friday night’s starter.
Chris Tillman, like Gonzalez, has been a savior for this team. Since he joined the club just before the All-Star break, who’s been better? No one on this staff. Tillman improved to 9-2 on the season with Friday night’s dominating performance in the O’s 9-1 win over the Red Sox. Tillman surrendered just one hit—a bunt single on the game’s second pitch to Scott Podsednick. Podsednick went to second on a throwing error by Ryan Flaherty. One out later, he scored on a sac fly from Dustin Pedroia, and the Sox had a 1-0 lead.
Tillman would walk Daniel Nava in the third, and that was it. The Sox went in order after that, 14-up, 14-down, and Tillman, provided plenty of run support by the suddenly sizzling offense, thre eight innings, giving up just the one unearned run on just the one bunt hit. He fanned four, and walked one—a stifling performance.
Back to that offense. Down 1-0, the Orioles got right to work against Red Sox starter Aaron Cook (L, 4-11). Nate McLouth singled on Cook’s first pitch. One out later, Chris Davis, who’d homered twice Wednesday against the Blue Jays, Hammered a line drive home run (29) into the right field seats, for a 2-1 Orioles lead.
Flaherty jumped on a low, 2-1 fastball and drove it deep into the right field seats for his first career grand slam (6). The Orioles led 6-1, and the game was essentially over.
Back-to-back-to-back doubles from Reynolds, Machado, and Flaherty plated two more O’s runs in the fifth, and Taylor Teagarden’s single scored Flaherty for the 9-1 win.
The Orioles will send Steve Johnson (4-0, 1.62) to the mound Saturday vs. Boston’s Felix Doubront (11-9, 4.91). First pitch: 7:05.
- Tillman is, right now, the ace of this staff. How crazy is that, for a playoff-bound squad?
- Flaherty: 2/4, 2R, 1HR, 5RBI.
- Multi hit efforts from Thome (3/4) and Machado (2/4), as well as Flaherty.
- Flaherty’s error, though he certainly made up for it.