Tonight’s attendance: 11,561
Manager Buck Showalter needed Chris Tillman to go deep into tonight’s game, and the right-hander completed six innings for the third time in seven starts.
Tillman was removed after 112 pitches and improved to 2-3 with a 6.15 ERA.
“What did he have, three walks and a hit by pitch? It’s just things a young pitcher has to figure out to get deeper in games,” Showalter said. “To be honest with all of us, you probably would have signed up in blood for that number of innings out of a starter with where we were in the bullpen. He was effective statistically in the in-game and giving us a chance to win.
“You knew runs were going to be at a premium with (Felix) Hernandez out there. We had him at around 100 after five. We had a pretty big inning where he threw a lot of pitches, and really the key is the following inning so you don’t let him slide back into a short innings, and we had a lot of good at-bats. And J.J. (Hardy) had a clinic night at shortstop. It was pretty impressive.”
Showalter, as he typically does, credited Matt Wieters for calling a good game and keeping a young starter on track.
“It’s similar to the first outing,” Showalter said. “Matt didn’t just let him start throwing. He got a big out with a changeup to (Adam) Kennedy, and the changeup was a big pitch for him. And commanding his fastball enough to keep it a factor with the hitters in their minds.
“He had a pretty long leash tonight. I don’t think he realized just how long it was going to be, especially in the second and third inning. One of those rare times when it’s tough to protect a young pitcher tonight.”
Adam Jones tied his career high with four hits, and his seven hits over his last two games raised his average from .250 to .286.
“I was kidding his Mom tonight that I’d sure like to see if she’d like to stay a little while longer, like four more months, but I’d like to think it’s a lot more than that,” Showalter said. “He’s certainly been on top of his game lately and it seems like he’s kind of calmed some things down and let the game come to him a little bit and trust his abilities more.”
The Orioles exhibited a better approach at the plate tonight, which resulted in more pitches from Hernandez and his exit after five innings.
“There were a lot of quality at-bats,” Showalter said. “They didn’t always show up with a base hit, but he gets so many outs with his slider that leaves the zone. We didn’t let him get too many of those tonight. He’s such a total pitcher - fastball, slider, curveball, changeup. He’s pretty special. Not many pitchers make a living out of getting you out of the strike zone and make the ball appear as a hittable pitch and it leaves the zone. He’s one of those guys that can get you out of the strike zone, but when he does try to take you out of it, you can’t let him. It’s a lot easier said than done, believe me. He’s been doing it for quite a while at a young age.”
J.J. Hardy dazzled in the field, as Showalter mentioned earlier. He also has five hits in two games since coming off the disabled list, .
“Let’s face it, we’re still in that stage where we think we’ve got an idea about J.J., but he’s got a true arm, he cares about defense,” Showalter said. “And not that Robert (Andino) and Izzy (Cesar Izturis) didn’t play well in his absence, but I think that’s something that he brings that every club’s in need of.”