Chris Tillman retired the first eight Tampa Bay Rays this afternoon before walking No. 9 hitter Yunel Escobar.
You can guess what happened next.
Desmond Jennings ran the count full and doubled to left, giving the Rays a 1-0 lead at Camden Yards.
Tillman retired the side in order in the top of the first, getting a fly ball, pop-up and grounder. The first two batters, Jennings and Matt Joyce, each worked him for seven pitches. He breezed through the second before issuing the free pass to Escobar.
Tillman has thrown 55 pitches, 34 for strikes. His fastball has frequently been clocked at 93 mph.
Before the game, manager Buck Showalter explained why the Orioles optioned second baseman Ryan Flaherty to Triple-A Norfolk following last night’s game.
“He needs to get some at-bats consistently,” Showalter said. “He had a great spring, did some good things for us here, especially defensively, and will again hopefully. It will be up to him. He’s going down to a good club that’s playing well. He’ll get consistent at-bats and try to work some things out. He’ll have a good group down there that will help him.
“It’ll be perfect for him, for what he needs, because they’re certainly not going to let him feel sorry for himself. In a good way. That’s a very upbeat, positive atmosphere he’s going to.”
Flaherty is batting .133 in 30 games.
“It snowballs,” Showalter said. “He has a good game, and the next day he hits two line drives at somebody and then you start to get that mentality of, ‘Oh, geez, what’s going to happen next?’ You’ve got to change that. How are you going to change that? So I’m hoping this helps him.”
Alexi Casilla is on the bench again today. He’s made one start at second base since May 10 and two since May 3. Flaherty is gone, but Yamaico Navarro is starting today for the third consecutive game.
“I want to keep a runner on the bench,” Showalter said. “Some of it is to have some versatility on our bench and we’ve already seen it can impact a game. That has something to do with hit. And like I told you when I started Yami, I want to get a feel for what he is and what he may be able to do, and there’s only one way to do it. Run him out there.
“I can’t sit here and say I know exactly what Alexi is capable of, but he’s going to get his at-bats at some point. It’s going to happen. But he’s serving a real important role for us. It may not always show up in a game, but his versatility is something we have to have.”
Showalter lost a middle infielder when Flaherty was optioned. Danny Valencia doesn’t play second base or shortstop.
Matt Wieters isn’t in the lineup today despite being 6-for-11 with two homers against Rays left-hander Matt Moore.
“I need to give Matt a day today, especially with the stretch we’ve got coming up,” Showalter said. “I thought about DHing him, but there are some other things going on and it’s just best for him to take a day. It’s nice to have a pinch-hitter like him on the bench, too.”
The Yankees were rained out today, so the Orioles probably will have to face CC Sabathia Monday night at Camden Yards.
Sabathia is 17-4 with a 3.03 ERA in 26 starts against the Orioles.
Over 14,000 fans are here today for the second Little League Day of the season. Youth from around the area participated in a pre-game parade around the warning track and gave high-fives to Orioles players as they passed the dugout.
Update: Manny Machado led off the bottom of the fourth with a gift triple and scored on Adam Jones’ single to tie the game 1-1.
Jennings and Matt Joyce almost collided while chasing Machado’s fly ball in right-center field, and it rolled to the fence. It should have been caught.
Jones has reached base in 40 of 43 games this season.
Jones stole second and third base on consecutive pitches, making him 7-for-7 this season, but he was stranded.
Twice today, the Orioles have gotten a runner to third base with one out and failed to get him home.
According to reports out of New York, the Yankees will start Sabathia, Phil Hughes and Hiroki Kuroda against the Orioles.
In case you’re wondering, Valencia is 3-for-13 with a double and RBI against Sabathia.
Valencia’s first at-bat as an Oriole today produced a leadoff double in the third.
Update II: So much for being tied.
Former Oriole Luke Scott led off the top of the fifth with a home run to give Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead.
Tillman has allowed 48 career home runs, including 33 solo shots. Fourteen have come from the leadoff batter in an inning.