Saunders and Tillman: The two-headed Game 4 starter

NEW YORK - Manager Buck Showalter walked out of the interview room at Yankee Stadium this afternoon, and pitchers Joe Saunders and Chris Tillman took a seat at the head table.

One of them will start Game 4 of the American League Division Series. It’s just not public information at this hour.

“We were kind of hoping you would tell us, because we don’t know yet,” Saunders said, bringing laughter from reporters. “Whoever it is, me or Chris, we’re going to go out there and do our job.”

“Same,” Tillman said. “I feel confident either way. I think our team trusts us and either way we go, I feel like we can get the job done.”

Showalter has made a decision, but he’s going to wait until Game 3 plays out. Both pitchers are available in relief.

Game 4 is viewed by the Orioles as extremely important, no matter what happens tonight, because Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia casts, yes, a rather large shadow in a potential Game 5. The Orioles would like to avoid a must-win scenario with Sabathia on the mound.

Tillman hasn’t pitched in the postseason during his major league career. He’s been watching the Division Series from the bullpen.

“The intensity was huge, the fans were great,” he said. “I think you’ve just got to treat it like another start. You can’t put too much pressure on yourself. It’s not fair to yourself, not fair to your team.”

Saunders has made five postseason starts, going 1-1 with a 4.94 ERA in 23 2/3 innings, with 29 hits, 13 walks and 12 strikeouts. The lone victory came for the Orioles in Friday night’s wild card game in Texas.

“You have to approach it like it’s just another game,” he said. “If you try to do too much, put too much pressure on yourself, you’re going to run into problems and things are going to snowball on you. For me, it’s just a matter of what I’ve learned over, I don’t know how many starts I have - three, four, five starts maybe - and just keeping your nerves in check and trusting your stuff and going out there and doing your thing.”

The Orioles don’t have an ace on their pitching staff. As Showalter says, it’s whomever is taking the ball on a particular night.

“I think it comes in believing in ourselves and believing that we don’t truly have maybe a one, two, three, four, five kind of rotation,” Saunders said. “We have maybe a couple twos, maybe a couple threes, maybe a four, whatever. Every day is the biggest game of the year, and then we move on to the next day and then that day is the biggest game of the year. That’s how I’ve come to find out how they approach it and what their philosophy is.”

Unlike previous years, the Orioles don’t view Yankee Stadium as their house of horrors. They’ve gone 6-3 here and won all three series. The Orioles and Rays are the only visiting American League teams with a winning record in the Bronx in 2012.

“I think our team this year is different than it has been in the past,” Tillman said. “Being here the last three years and coming up through this year has been a whole different feel in the clubhouse and on the field. You come in the clubhouse after the game, you wouldn’t be able to tell whether we won or lost. We’ve got a good thing going. We’ve just been playing good baseball.

“I think any given night, it’s a different guy that’s a star that helps the team. It’s never the same guys over and over again. Different guys pull through for us. It’s exciting to watch.

“It’s fun playing here. They always have the fans here, they’ve always got the support. I think we all enjoy playing here, as well. It’s one of the nicer stadiums we get to go to. But from a player standpoint, you get on the field, I think we can focus on what we need to do and not buy into all that stuff. As long as we can do that and not kind of pay attention to all the other stuff, I think we’ll be fine.”

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