Written by Bruce Smith (VaTech1994)
The Orioles made it two wins in a row in Kansas City on Friday night. The final score was 4-0 as the Orioles recorded their third shutout win of the season. Chris Tillman pitched a complete game to record his first career complete game shutout. The offense was quiet for most of the night, but they did get a big fly from Chris Davis. Thanks to the dominance from Tillman, it was a rather quiet game with little drama.
The Orioles continue to lead the AL East with a record of 22-18.
Chris Tillman had excellent fastball command tonight in his first start since having almost no fastball command in a rough Mother’s Day loss. He moved the ball around to all quadrants of the zone, mixed in a nice curveball, and an occasional changeup. Tillman threw his cutter a bit more than normal today to get a few select hitters like Salvador Perez. Many of the outs came from weak contact on well-placed fastballs. Chris didn’t light up the radar gun most of the time as his fastball ranged from 88-92 mph but it was clear to me that he was intentionally adding and subtracting with the pitch. Chris continues to evolve into a complete pitcher that can get hitters out in a variety of different ways.
Tillman’s final line was 9.0 IP, 5 hits, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K, and the complete game, shutout win. It was an outstanding performance by Tillman. The Royals never seriously threatened and hit very few balls with any authority. It was Tillman’s first career complete game shutout and the first by an Oriole since Scott Feldman did it on September 6th last season.
The bullpen took the night off thanks to the outstanding start by Tillman.
The Orioles scored two runs in the 4th inning to go up 2-0. The most impressive things to happen in the inning were a Manny Machado bunt single to lead off the inning and Steve Clevenger really getting out of the box on a chopper to prevent a double play. If Clevenger didn’t beat the throw, the inning would have ended without the second run scoring. The rest of the “rally” consisted of a Jeremy Guthrie throwing error, a walk to Chris Davis that probably should have been a called strike three, and a Nelson Cruz chopper that bounced over the head of the first basemen. The Orioles didn’t exactly crush the baseball in the inning, but they put up two runs.
The Orioles scored another run in the 6th inning. Adam Jones beat out his league leading 12th infield hit on a slow bouncer to short. Chris Davis muscled a ball into right field for a single that moved Jones to third. Nelson Cruz then hit a rocket to center field that was caught but served as a sacrifice fly that extended the lead to 3-0.
Chris Davis walloped a fastball that caught too much of the plate in the 8th inning for his first home since returning from the DL last Sunday. Guthrie was getting a bit tired, but it was nice to see Chris exhibit that easy power that was on display so frequently last season. It was his third homer and we can only hope it gets Davis started on a tear, because he singlehandedly changes the game when he gets hot.
The Orioles are struggling at the plate, but Guthrie did pitch well tonight. He had good command of all four pitches and mixed them well.
Steve Clevenger made a couple of really nice blocks on curveballs in the dirt with fast runners on base. He has done a really nice job behind the plate and looks to be a very able backup catcher.
Key Moments In The Game
The Royals started the game with a double, but they were unable to score. The Orioles record when the opponent scores first is well below .500 so not getting behind immediately was important for the psyches of the struggling Orioles’ offense.
Guthrie had a throwing error on the ill-advised attempt to get Machado at first after his surprise bunt. It got Machado to 2nd to start the fourth inning. Later that inning, Chris Davis took a 3-2 pitch that appeared to catch the inside corner, but was called ball four. Without those two plays, it is very unlikely that the Orioles would have scored in the inning.
Two straight wins in Kansas City after a disheartening sweep at home by Tigers was just what the doctor ordered. The Orioles’ pitching is keeping them competitive right now while the hitting slumps. Winning low scoring games is a huge part of having a good season and the Orioles have already won quite a few this year.
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