According to Elias, Chris Tillman is the first Orioles pitcher to be 10-plus games above .500 at any point since Mike Mussina in 1999.
Tillman improved to 13-3 tonight by shutting out the Red Sox on two hits over seven innings in a 6-0 win. Tillman struck out eight batters, tying his season high, and retired 19 of the last 21.
Manager Buck Showalter didn’t know whether Tillman would deliver the Orioles’ 11th quality start in 13 games after the right-hander loaded the bases with two outs in the first inning and threw 22 pitches.
“He’s certainly developing quite a track record,” Showalter said. “You hear a lot of people talk about good pitchers, that you need to get them early before they find their stuff. He’s kind of following that mode. There’s a lot of good pitchers who have followed that over the years.
“Chris was really good. He was a difference-maker tonight. Tommy (Hunter) and Jimmy (Johnson) both had five days off. They were going to pitch tonight regardless, but Chris was making it tough to take him out of there.
“Chris can spin the curveball for a strike. Matt (Wieters) had him throw some right-on-right changeups that I thought made a difference. He just keeps on pitching. He’s always had a similar demeanor and that’s why it’s been easy to stay with him and by him. He’s a very competitive man.
“They say the best thing you can teach your children is how to survive without you, and Chris has kind of gotten to the point where he understands what he has to do. He doesn’t need mental games. The competitive part of it is easy to trust. He’s very respectful of the competition and the people we’re playing, but he knows he’s capable of doing this. I think his teammates feed off that.”
Tillman maintained his composure while battling plate umpire Laz Diaz’ inconsistent strike zone.
“We got a couple things our way, too,” Showalter said. “It doesn’t mean there’s not a semi-frustrated... That’s part of it. I’ve said many times, umpiring is tough. It’s an educated guess. The ball moves too fast. Tag plays, trap plays, strikes, balls. If you consistently make quality pitches, it’s going to work out. And that’s what he did. Chris has matured at the right things.”
No Orioles pitcher had won 13 games this early in a season since Sidney Ponson in 2003.
“There’s two ways to look at it,” Showalter said. “What’s it say about what he’s doing this year and what does it say about what’s gone on the last 10 years? There’s a lot of ways to look at it.
“It’s like the guy who says it’s not necessarily about the money. It’s about the money. Someone says it’s not about the pitching. Trust me, it’s about the pitching. If we stay in this and continue to compete, it will be because of pitching and people like Chris.”
Showalter grows uncomfortable when reminded of the Orioles’ recent success against the Red Sox.
“We had some things fall our way,” he said. “We know there are so many teams in division, you know the road to competing passes through them. That’s a given with them.”
The Orioles posted their fifth shutout of the season. They’ve homered in 11 straight games against Boston dating back to Sept. 28, 2012. According to STATS, that streak is the second-longest in club history behind the 12-game streak vs. Boston from June 4, 1998-June 22, 1999.
Manny Machado is batting .444 with five doubles, two homers and eight RBIs against the Red Sox this season. Adam Jones is batting .343 with three doubles, three homers and nine RBIs.