The X-rays taken on shortstop J.J. Hardy’s ribcage came back negative.
“They’re fine,” he said. “They hurt, but they’re fine. They hurt a lot.”
The Orioles have a few guys feeling under the weather and icing their bumps and bruises. And now, their hitting is contagious. (See what I did there?)
“Yeah, that’s kind of what I’m talking about,” Hardy said. “We’re dry for a while. We’re not scoring anything, and we got out there and score five in an inning. It’s definitely contagious, and hopefully we can keep it going from here.”
Chris Tillman, one of the Orioles who’s experiencing some flu-like symptoms, allowed two runs and six hits in six-plus innings.
“I felt OK,” he said. “From the get-go, it was kind of a battle. I think for both pitchers it was a battle early on. I was able to settle in there for a little bit and make some good pitches.
“I didn’t feel that good, but come game time I was ready to go. I was fine. It’s something you deal with. I’ve pitched with it before, so it wasn’t a problem.”
Tillman is a much more confident pitcher this season, and it shows.
“I think confidence has a lot to play into it,” he said. “It comes down to getting my delivery right. And I put a lot of hard work in during the offseason and coming in, so I’m happy with where I’m at right now.”
Tillman walked the first two batters, but the Rays didn’t score until the seventh.
“I’m able to make the adjustments early now,” he said. “I’m able to recognize what I need to do. Like I said, it was a battle early on for both guys and I wish I had been better there, limit my pitch count a little bit and make better pitches, but that wasn’t the case. But I was able to settle in and let the defense work. They did a great job. (Mark) Reynolds made that play at first base. That was a key point in the game for me.”
The offensive explosion, as it qualifies on this team, eased some of the pressure on Tillman.
“It’s huge,” he said. “Being able to go out and put up a zero after that inning was key for me. I knew our hitters were fine. They’ve been swinging the bat well. A little bit of bad luck. A lot of hard-hit balls right at guys. Sooner or later they’re going to fall.”
The Orioles scored five runs in the fifth inning after tallying four runs or fewer in eight of their last nine games and 13 of 16. Chris Davis had his first four-RBI game since April 28 against Oakland.
“It meant a lot, especially with the quick turnaround from last night,” Davis said. “I think today was a good day. Going the other way, and obviously, the power in the last at-bat.
“Tilly kept us in that game with (James) Shields going up there, throwing up zeroes. We got to him later in the game, and Tilly was there with him the entire way. Really proud of him, the way he threw the ball today.”
Asked if the Orioles have a streaky lineup, Davis replied, “It just depends. Everybody goes through ups and downs throughout the course of the season. We have a lot of really good hitters on this team. Nick Markakis has stepped up and done an outstanding job at the top of the order, and that just goes to show we have a lot of guys in this lineup that can do a lot of different things. Sometimes you’re going to be hot, sometimes you’re not, but hopefully we’ll start stringing hits together and put some runs up on the board.”
Davis let a fly ball fall behind him for a ground-rule double in the Rays’ two-run seventh inning. Did he lose it in the sun?
“A couple of balls,” he said. “The one that Carlos (Pena) hit and the one that B.J. (Upton) hit, when they went up it kind of took me a second to find them. The sun was pretty bright. There weren’t any clouds in the sky. It was just one of those ones where if I’m playing there two or three years, I probably know a little better what to do there. I started drifting back and the ball was right over me. By the time I turned around, it was already past me.
“I told Tilly it’s a ball I’ve got to catch, but at the same time he said, ‘I shouldn’t have thrown that pitch there.’ The ball carries. Definitely a catchable ball.”