While the Orioles continue to scout potential upgrades for their rotation, they’re sending a pitcher to the mound tonight at Angel Stadium who’s registered seven quality starts in his last eight outings.
A true No. 1 starter? Manager Buck Showalter will let others carry that debate.
He sees a pitcher, Chris Tillman, whose ERA has dropped from 5.20 on June 5 to 4.03 heading into tonight’s game. Tillman fell one-third of an inning short, on July 2 against the Rangers, of making it eight consecutive quality starts.
The streak began after he lasted only one inning against the Rangers on June 5 in Arlington - the second time in four starts that he failed to record an out in the second. It also happened in Pittsburgh.
There was panic in the streets of Baltimore. There were daily questions about Tillman’s groin, which he enjoyed about as much as an actual groin injury.
Tillman is 6-0 with a 4.96 ERA away from home this season. He’s the only qualified starter in the majors with an unblemished road record in 2014. It looks better now that his ERA has dropped below 5.00.
Tillman is 2-0 with a 1.84 ERA in two career starts against the Angels, allowing three earned runs in 14 2/3 innings. He picked up the win in his only start in Anaheim with eight scoreless innings on May 2, 2013.
The Angels managed only three hits against Tillman. Albert Pujols homered off Jim Johnson in the ninth in the Orioles’ 5-1 victory.
The current Angels are 5-for-31 with no extra-base hits against Tillman. Josh Hamilton is 1-for-9 with four strikeouts.
Jered Weaver is 6-4 with a 3.06 ERA in 10 career starts against the Orioles.
Adam Jones is 5-for-16 (.313) with a double, triple and home run against Weaver. Nick Markakis is 7-for-24 (.292) with a double and home run.
Nelson Cruz is 15-for-66 (.227) with three doubes, two home runs and 20 strikeouts. J.J. Hardy is 2-for-17, and Chris Davis is 6-for-31 (.194).
Right-handers are batting .170 against Weaver this season and left-handers are batting .258.
Could David Lough make his first start since June 27? He went 2-for-4 in that game and has collected a grand total of three at-bats over his next 12 appearances - none in his last seven.
Will Manny Machado return to the lineup? He was a very late scratch last night with tightness in his lower back.
Machado said he received an injection to calm the spasms. Showalter told MASN’s Gary Thorne that it didn’t appear to be a structural issue and should manage itself fine, but he didn’t want to jinx it.
Given Weaver’s dominance of right-handed hitters, Ryan Flaherty may start at second base unless he’s needed again at third. Or Showalter could take into account that Jonathan Schoop has homered twice on this trip.
Is it weird that all eight of Schoop’s home runs have come on the road? April 9 in New York, April 24 in Toronto, May 7 in St. Petersburg, May 26 in Milwaukee (two), June 22 in New York, July 18 in Oakland and last night in Anaheim.
Showalter told reporters in Anaheim that Ubaldo Jimenez will throw another bullpen session today - the day he originally had been scheduled to make a rehab start. He’s still tentative when pushing off with his right foot.
The Orioles aren’t in any rush to get him back in the rotation. They’ve got five starters and continue to check on available ones. If Jimenez says the ankle is still weak, he won’t get anywhere near a game that counts.
Down on the farm, Double-A Bowie’s Niuman Romero went 1-for-3 with a double and RBI last night. He started at third base.
Why do I mention it? Because Romero is batting .328 and the Orioles have checked on him in case they need to bring up an infielder.
He’s 29 and playing a level too low, but at least he isn’t sulking.
Triple-A Norfolk first baseman Christian Walker had a run-scoring single last night to increase his RBI total to 81, the fifth-most in the minors this season.
Matt Hobgood followed Dylan Bundy to the mound last night for Single-A Frederick and tossed three scoreless innings to register his fourth save in four opportunities.