The Orioles' three starters in next week's All-Star Game hit home runs tonight, which seemed appropriate considering their contributions this season and the reward that awaits them.
Chris Davis, Adam Jones and J.J. Hardy muscled up in the Orioles' 8-5 win over the Blue Jays at Camden Yards.
"Earl would have been proud tonight," said manager Buck Showalter.
"They've just been solid as people, too. They post up and they're in a good routine. Same way with Nick and Manny and Matt. They're a force of consistency for us. Not only as players, but as people. I think that's the thing you miss when you're not here. Not so much what they do statistically. That's pretty special, but the consistency they bring and the approach to the game."
Showalter marveled at Jones' ability to cut off J.P. Arencibia's single in right-center field in the fourth and make a strong and accurate throw to second base for the out.
"The play Adam made in the fourth inning, you won't see a better baseball play. My gosh," Showalter said. "And J.J.'s one of the best taggers in baseball. That gave me a little 'really?' moment. That is so hard. A lot of people don't even attempt it. They just back off it and let it hit off the wall. That was fun to watch."
Chris Tillman improved to 11-3 this season and 20-6 since June 25, 2012. He allowed two home runs, but held the Blue Jays to three runs over six innings.
"Tilly bent, but he didn't break," Showalter said. "We had a bunch of 2-0 counts. I think we had 10 2-0 counts, so we were fortunate not to have that bite us.
"I thought he was carrying a pretty good fastball after about the second inning and you could tell he got a little physical with the game and really finished it up pretty strong there."
What does it say about Tillman that he's won 11 games this year?
"I'm thinking and hoping as the future develops, he's going to be that type of guy," Showalter said. "He's capable of spinning a real good game out there, if we can just get his pitch count down a little bit. He has a somewhat unorthodox delivery, which makes him effective. There's some moving parts there. Once he gets that part out of it where he consistently repeats his delivery, there's a lot of things he can accomplish as a pitcher. We're lucky to have him. He's been pretty consistent for us and has given us a chance to win every time he goes out there. He's come a long way as a pitcher and a person. I'm proud of him."
In his Orioles debut, Jairo Asencio struck out Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion to strand two runners.
"There's a lot of adrenaline going there and command's been a good thing for him, so you kind of take that away," Showalter said. "You can see why he closed so many games and pitched so well for (Ron Johnson) and them down there. Good changeup. Threw a real good changeup to second base that double play ball. It's a good first start. He came out, faced some good hitters there. I thought it was a key part of the game to keep them from getting back in it. Big strikeout there with some good hitters."
The Orioles are back to 10 games above .500. Showalter was asked whether he's now happy with how they're playing.
"Happy, that gives a connotation of satisfied," he replied. "I was tonight. I think satisfaction, happiness, means you're content, and as long as there are people ahead of us and what we're trying to accomplish, I don't think anybody's content with it."