Chris Tillman extended his career-long winning streak to four games tonight, holding the Mariners to one run over 7 1/3 innings and walking only one batter in a 3-1 victory at Camden Yards.
“I think fastball command was a little better tonight. Not as good as I was early on when I first got here, but it was better tonight. My changeup and curveball kind of carried me through the game,” Tillman said.
“It feels good. I feel like I put a lot of work in in the offseason and carried it into the season and spring training and what not. I feel like it’s starting to pay off here, and we’re not done. We have a long way to go. We’ve got a lot of season left and we’ve got to keep working until we’re done.”
Tillman retired the side in order in the first inning, which was important for a pitcher who tends to get out of the gate slowly.
“Yeah, it’s big,” he said. “I went out with the mindset of one inning at a time. It has been kind of a downfall for me, but I knew what I needed to do to get through it and I made some pitches.”
Walks have been an issue for Tillman in the past, but he only handed out one free pass tonight. He’s walked one batter in his last two starts, totaling 12 1/3 innings.
“That’s always key,” he said. “Getting ahead early in the count is a big part of it. You get ahead and you’ve got the advantage all the way. I just want to throw strikes early on and let my defense do the work. And they did most of the work tonight.”
Tillman is 3-0 with a 0.87 ERA against the Mariners, but he denies having any extra motivation facing the team that drafted him and then traded him away.
“No, not anymore,” he said. “I kind of got over that after that ‘08 season when I came over here. Just another team to go out there and give my team a chance to win.
“I think it just comes down to what I’ve got that day. I made some big pitches with runners on base. I got lucky and made that play up the middle. I fielded that ball off my face. I think (Matt) Wieters did a great job back there with me. He did another fantastic job tonight, kept me right on line. I can’t give him enough credit tonight.”
Tillman has been battling the flu for a while, but he’s finally back to full strength.
“I feel much better physically,” he said. “This is probably the first night in a while I felt pretty much 100 percent. I felt good.”
Tillman’s velocity was down a few ticks, but he compensated for it.
“We talked about that a little bit and I had no reason,” Tillman said. “I wasn’t backing off any. I was giving everything I had tonight, so I don’t have an answer for you there.
“My changeup’s been there for me all year and I think that came into play tonight. The more you throw the changeup, the harder the fastball’s going to look. I think the changeup got me through that game tonight.”