Chris Tillman continued his climb to being a legitimate ace on this staff and the Baltimore Orioles manufactured runs to take game one of a four game set 4-2 over the New York Yankees.
Looking for his 16thwin of the season, Tillman (16-5) was absolutely phenomenal as he seemed to have complete command of his fastball and changeup, and although he struggled with his curveball at times, still used it effectively. He really only made two glaring mistakes all night and both of those happen to go over the wall for solo home runs.
Tillman finished the night throwing seven innings, while allowing two runs on four hits, zero walks and a career high tying nine strikeouts. Yankees’ hitters seemed to be getting frustrated as Tillman was hitting his spots so precisely that several New York batters were taking the called strikes and getting upset with the calls.
After Tillman allowed a leadoff solo homer in the eighth, Tommy Hunter came into the ball game and had one of the most impressive innings we have seen by an Orioles pitcher this season. Hunter came in throwing smoke and struck out the side in just 11 pitches. Jim Johnson then came on in the ninth for his AL Leading 43rdsave of the season with a scoreless inning.
The Baltimore offense has been on quite a skid with runners in scoring position and has not been able to manufacture the runs when they needed them most. Last night was quite encouraging for Orioles fans as the O’s twice had a leadoff double, that the next batter moved him up to third and the next batter knock him in with a sacrifice fly. That is manufacturing runs, and Baltimore did not stop there as Alexi Casilla singled with two outs in the fifth, then stole second base and Nick Markakis drove him in with a single to give the Birds a 3-1 lead.
Markakis came up in a big spot in the bottom of the seventh with runners on first and second with no outs, but proceeded to ground into a double play. Manny Machado picked up his teammate and delivered a clutch two out RBI double to score Matt Wieters and give the Orioles an always appreciated insurance run.
Baltimore did not get that many chances on the night with runners in scoring position, but they took advantage of most of their opportunities and will need to continue to do so if they want to get back to the playoffs.
The Birds get back at it tonight as the send Miguel Gonzalez (9-7) to the mound for the start against Yankees’ starter Ivan Nova (8-4). With the win, and combined with the Rays being idle, the O’s now sit 1 ½ games back of the second wildcard spot.
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