Tillman on Tillman

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Chris Tillman made his first start today after two relief appearances, this time working ahead of left-hander Dana Eveland instead of following him.

Tillman was charged with one run in 3 1/3 innings. He allowed four hits and walked two batters. Of his 51 pitches, only 28 were strikes. His fastball routinely hit 94 mph.

It was a mixed bag.

"I think it's still a work in progress," he said. "My windup felt good. Stretch is something I'm still playing with, and trying to be quicker with runners on base. But I think that's a small adjustment from my first start to my second start."

Pitching from the stretch is "always something I'm working on," he said.

"Like I said, out of the windup I felt real comfortable, throwing the ball downhill. When I got in the stretch with runners on first, trying to give my catcher a chance to throw runners out at second base, I was being a little quick. It's all new to me. I've got that new leg kick.

"I figured it out a little bit. I know exactly what I need to do. I just need to slow myself down and try not be so quick. Keep that downhill plane."

The only run off Tillman scored in the fourth inning after he departed. He surrendered back-to-back singles and got a force at second before Robert Hinton replaced him.

Happy with the results?

"Yeah, minus the fourth inning," he said. "You never like to give up a run."

Tillman said going from reliever to starter today didn't require major adjustments.

"It's the same thing when you have that much time to get loose," he said. "Pitching's pitching to me."

Tillman has allowed four runs (three earned) and nine hits in 8 1/3 innings this spring, with two walks and three strikeouts. His velocity is much better than last year.

"It's going well," he said. "I think I've made some adjustments, some mechanical adjustments. It's helping me already. I'm excited about it. I'm able to make the adjustments quicker and see exactly what I'm doing wrong and go from there."

The Orioles have taken a 3-1 lead over the Twins in the eighth inning.

Steve Tolleson singled to lead off the eighth against Jarod Burton, Ryan Flaherty sacrificed him to second and Matt Antonelli walked. Chris Davis struck out, but Trent Mummey walked to load the bases. Scott Beerer followed with an RBI single to left, and another run scored on an error.

Dana Eveland retired all nine batters he faced. Troy Patton is pitching in the bottom of the eighth.

Flaherty is playing left field.

The Rule 5 pick still appears to be a favorite to land a bench role, and being able to play the outfield improves his chances.

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