ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Orioles scored one run and totaled one extra-base hit over the first two games of their series at Tropicana Field. Today, they had seven doubles and a home run, and matched their season high with 10 runs.
Baseball is a funny game.
“When you figure it out, let me know,” said manager Buck Showalter after the Orioles’ 10-7 win over the Rays. “Guys are grinding it. They’re frustrated. Everybody looks for that perfection of consistency, which is hard to find. We’re facing really good pitching. We faced a really good pitcher again today (Matt Moore) and we were able to string some things together.”
Every starter had a hit except for Chris Davis, who went 0-for-5 today and 0-for-12 in the series. The last three batters in the order - Danny Valencia, Steve Pearce and Alexi Casilla - were a combined 6-for-11 with two RBIs and five runs scored.
“Lexi and Stevie and Danny all did some things, but they give themselves a chance to be successful,” Showalter said. “They know what their role is here and they want to be ready when called upon. And that’s how you get to have your role expanded. They understand that.”
Orioles starter Chris Tillman was given leads of 5-0 in the second inning and 8-1 in the third, but the Rays kept battling back and created a save situation for Jim Johnson with two outs in the ninth.
“The American League East is tough,” Showalter said. “You’ve got to play nine innings, which our guys did. They kept adding on, trying to. It’s hard in the major leagues. Talented hitters and things are going to happen. We’ve had games at home where nobody dreamed that we’d get the tying run to the plate, but we did. You’ve got to keep competiting, and knowing that some small play in the fourth or fifth inning might be the difference in the game later on.”
Rays starter Matt Moore was 8-1 with a 2.95 ERA before allowing a career-high nine runs and 12 hits today.
“I’ll let them figure that out,” Showalter said. “You just hope you’re not catching him when he’s on top of his game, because when he is, it doesn’t usually work out for you. We were fortunate to be on the mistakes that he made.”
Showalter was impressed that Tillman “just kept pitching” instead of relaxing with a big lead or changing his approach to hitters.
“He kept using all of his pitches, all four, and didn’t let the count or the score dictate what he was going to throw,” Showalter said. “He was unpredictable. And when he’s got command of all those things there, you can see, he won his sixth or seventh game today. He’s got a nice maturing process going on right now and it’s good to see.”
Tillman improved to 6-2 with a 3.89 ERA and eight quality starts in 13 games.
“It was a good outing today,” Showalter said. “It can be fleeting or it can be consistent. It’s up to him and the opposition. But he’s been pretty solid for us this year. So far, so good.”
Tillman is 5-0 with a 2.41 ERA on the road this season. He hasn’t allowed more than three runs in his last 11 road starts, the longest active streak in the majors.
Explain that one.
“I can’t put my finger on it,” Tillman said. “Just one of those things. I think we all enjoy pitching at Camden, too. It’s not anything against that place. I actually really enjoy pitching at Camden, so it’s something I can’t put my finger on.”
Tillman agreed that it was important to ignore the score and keep pitching.
“I struggled with that when I was younger,” he said. “The guys go out there and put up some runs and you think you can just cruise, but that’s not the case. You’ve got to go out there and pitch as if it’s a 0-0 ballgame. It’s one of the learning curves in this game. You’ve got to go out there no matter what and pitch your butt off.”
Not that Tillman is indifferent to all the runs being scored.
“Awesome,” he said. “I’ll take all the runs we can possibly score. Our guys came out swinging it early and were able to put some runs on the board for us.”