The Orioles demonstrated again tonight that they’re quite comfortable playing from behind. A three-run deficit means nothing, especially in the middle of a game. Especially with a lineup that gets quiet for spells and then shatters the eardrums.
They rallied to tie the score in the sixth and went ahead for good in the seventh to bail out starter Chris Tillman and defeat the Yankees 6-5 before 25,220 at Camden Yards.
The Red Sox lost to the Blue Jays, allowing the Orioles to take over first place by percentage points in the American League East. Remember when they trailed by three games with two remaining in their series against Boston?
It wasn’t that long ago.
The Orioles were down 5-2 in the sixth tonight, but they loaded the bases with one out and Matt Wieters delivered a two-run single. Pedro Alvarez struck out, but Mark Trumbo scored on Jonathan Schoop’s double.
Kim had three more hits to increase his average to .391. Trumbo doubled and singled twice and is batting .297 with nine doubles, 17 home runs and 42 RBIs.
Zach Britton recorded his 16th save in as many opportunities and the Orioles won their third game in a row to improve their record to 31-22.
Tillman retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced. His pitch count stood at 31 through the third. And then he just lost it.
Tillman threw 43 pitches in the fourth inning and served up back-to-back home runs to Carlos Beltran and Alex Rodriguez to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead. He allowed four hits and walked a batter. The inning lasted longer than “Titanic.”
Austin Romine homered on Tillman’s second pitch of the fifth inning, after Chris Davis’ solo shot onto the flag court had reduced the lead to 3-2. Dylan Bundy began to warm after Tillman walked Jacoby Ellsbury.
Tillman got a called third strike on Rodriguez on his 93rd pitch and returned to the dugout.
Tillman came out after Didi Gregorius doubled with two outs in the sixth and scored on Chase Headley’s single. He allowed five runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings, with two walks, five strikeouts and three home runs. He threw 109 pitches, 61 for strikes.
Over his last four starts, Tillman has surrendered eight home runs after allowing only one in his first eight outings. He’s endured back-to-back three-homer starts.
One of the bigger moments of the game occurred in the seventh when Wieters threw out Brett Gardner trying to steal second base to end the seventh.
Davis has 100 career home runs at Camden Yards, third-most behind Rafael Palmeiro (124) and Jones (110).
Here’s a sampling from Showalter:
On the bullpen: “Getting Mac back, he’s a weapon for us. Makes the rest of the bullpen better by the things he can do and the versatility that he has. It’s not always that he overpowers somebody, but he’s little by little, the process with him and up here. You see how well he pitched down in Triple-A. And Mychal certainly made a good contribution. When we got him, he was like 1.6, 1.7 to the plate when he first started pitching. And being quick to the plate tonight gives our catchers a chance. Matt made a great throw there.
“Mychal’s been thrown in the fire mostly because we think he can handle it. We have other options, but he’s responded to it well. I think his background has kind of helped him some. I know he’s a heck of a fielding pitcher.”
On Givens appearing in more difficult situations with Darren O’Day on the disabled list: “You never know how a game’s going to turn out, what inning’s going to be the most important looking back on it because of the emphasis we seem to put on it. And rightfully so as the outs dwindle and you’ve got a lead and if you can hold it, and there’s a sense of urgency. I think a lot of people talk to him a lot about it and it’s like, ‘I guess I should be more concerned about it.’ But I try to leave Mike out of that equation and go out there and get people out.
“The key for me is how he attacked the hitters behind him instead of relaxing. That’s been a little bit of a challenge for a lot of young pitchers where they kind of let their guard down after they get what’s conceived as a big out.”
On Tillman’s home runs: “Just location. It’s kind of like Ubaldo (Jimenez). You don’t see three better innings than he pitched to start the game. Pitch count was down We were hoping that he’s going to be able to get deep in the game and give some guys a blow in the ‘pen. I almost took him out of the game. He threw close to 40 pitches that one inning and that’s about where we stop. He was down to his last hitter there. I was hoping to get him through six and it didn’t work out.
“Kept the game engaged. There were a lot of opportunities for the game to get away from us. It was 5-2 when he left. He was very close to coming out of that 4-2. But our guys scoring a run off Betances was tough to do.”
On Kim being in the middle of rallies: “He’s staying short, not trying to get very big and taking what they give him. He’s handling a lot of pitches and not missing the pitches that he can handle. I said in the spring and especially as the season went on, the process and the stages he’s gone through, he’s kind of prepared for this. He’s taken great advantage of it. We’re lucky. He’s been right in the middle of just about everything for us, it seems.”
More on Kim: “You never know how things over there are going to correlate here. And he doesn’t have 100 at-bats yet, but so far so good, I think everybody in the clubhouse feels really good for him. You think about a lot of the you can call it national pressure back home that was on him because there are a lot of guys that would like to come over here and play. And the way maybe that’s looked at is enhanced with him doing well. Maybe he doesn’t look at it that way, but ...
“That’s why I thought early on it might have helped him, kind of sitting back and watching a lot of things and saying, ‘Yeah, I can do this,’ but he has always been selective. I was asking him, ‘Out of 10 pitches over there, how many would you see that are breaking balls?’ And he said seven to eight. So that’s something he sees.
“You know how much want-to he’s got, so I’m saying the ability to have a feel for the strike zone is a great trait for him to carry. Let me tell you, as the year goes on he’ll run into some. Heck, we messed up, we talked about it in the spring, putting him in the wrong hitting group. Thinking that’s what he is supposed to do every time. That’s was probably our mistake. There’s not a really good hitting group to put him in if that’s a problem.”
On Jones breaking for home on Machado’s roller: “Great baserunning play. They’re playing a three-depth in the infield, so we’re not going to let them turn two. We’re going to give them an out at the plate and make them get two more outs. The read we had going helped Jonsey get off to a good break there.
“That’s the play that was on. The problem is the non-turnable double play. That’s the one you don’t go on. You can’t them have an out at home plate when you knew they weren’t going to get two anyway.”
On going from three games back to first place in a short span: “It’s sort of a reminder to all of us, we’re never as good, and never as bad and you’re trying to keep some sense. But it’s human nature to think about it. My wife will tell you I don’t look at highlights or standings or anything when I know it doesn’t behoove my attitude. So you control that, we control that. Some people do it different. I just ignore it. I don’t ignore it, I just don’t look at it. I know sometimes you just can’t get into that sky is falling syndrome, because if you do it will fall.
“You can’t come in here real high one day and real low the next day. I’ve told you many times you come in here and match up playing a team that’s been struggling and you’re going well and you go home and you go, ‘What happened?’ And then you come in here sometimes and you’re facing one of the best pitchers in baseball and you may have a guy that’s been struggling, not swinging the bat and you go home and go, ‘Geez where did that come from?’
“So Billy (Martin) told me a long time ago, you assume the positon and see what the game has in store for you.”