Orioles manager Buck Showalter didn't wait for reporters to fire off questions tonight before commenting on pitcher Chris Tillman, who held the Toronto Blue Jays to one run over 6 2/3 innings.
"Tillman was good, huh?" Showalter said after the Orioles' 2-1 victory at Camden Yards. "That was an impressive outing. To have that kind of command of the curveball and off-speed pitches on a night where the feeling in your fingers, ball's slick. That was pretty impressive. I'm proud of him.
"He established command of his fastball and threw a few sliders, curveball, changeups. Established the command of his fastball, and after that, it opened up a lot of things to Matt (Wieters) and him. You give Matt those types of weapons and command...
"Tilly was the difference in that ballgame."
Do the pitchers or hitters have the advantage of a bitter-cold night?
"You're going to think I'm crazy, but guys with bigger hands usually have a little easier time with it," Showalter said. "Most pitchers do. Longer fingers, anyway. So usually the pitcher has the advantage. But the command of the off-speed pitches is really tough on a night like that. You saw a couple pitches from (J.A.) Happ where you could tell it just came out of his hand. He never really had a grip on it."
Nick Markakis won the game with a two-out, bases-loaded single off reliever Aaron Loup. Markakis fell behind 0-2 and fouled off a pitch before lining a single to left. And he did it against a southpaw. Impressive at-bat.
"Believe me, it doesn't go unnoticed," Showalter said. "That's a tough at-bat, tough arm angle. That guy, you see what left-handers are hitting off him last year and this year. He's tough. He established the fastball away. Nicky's not trying to do too much there."
Markakis went 2-for-5 with an RBI and has hit in 16 of 19 games. He's posted multi-hit games in seven of 10 home games.
"Nicky is firing on all pistons," Showalter said. "He may not wear it on his sleeve but there's a real fire in there. You don't do the things he does day in and day out and post up... He likes to compete. You talk all the time about someone who likes to be in that situation. It's just that you don't shrink from it. We don't look for things that test us in life necessarily. It's just that he doesn't shrink from it. He says, 'OK, let's go.' "
Down on the farm, Cuban outfielder Henry Urrutia hit his first professional home run tonight for Double-A Bowie.