Tillman talk

O's right-hander Chris Tillman will take the mound at Camden Yards tonight vs. Tampa.

We'll see if he can follow up on his excellent outing before the break at Texas where he beat the Rangers and out-dueled Cliff Lee. He took a no-hitter in the seventh and gave up just two hits and a run over 7 1/3.

It was his first start after going back to Triple-A for three starts.

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O's pitching coach Rick Kranitz said this time Tillman returned a more confident pitcher and one that can now rely on using a cut fastball.

"He looked like a different guy to me. Just his demeanor, I mean everything about him when he walked into the clubhouse and then warmed up for the game.

"There wasn't as much doubt, it was more like 'here I am and I'm going to show you what I have.' He showed that and there was a different look no doubt about it in his whole demeanor. Just his eyes, how he approached the hitters. It was something we hadn't seen up here yet."

Tillman went 0-3, 8.40 over his first four Major League starts this year before his outing at Texas.

The 22-year-old right-hander is now 3-8, 5.46 in 17 career big league starts.

Kranitz estimates Tillman threw at least 15 cut fastballs vs. the Rangers. It's been a pitch he's been working on all year and it looks like he's made some solid strides with that pitch.

"He's going to have to have it," Kranitz said. "In this game, you are going to face teams that will throw six or seven left handers up there. You have to have something to protect against that.

"You can say he has a good curveball and change-up, but he didn't have anything going in to a lefty hitter. When you have something going in hard vs. a left-handed hitter, that will stop them from leaning out over the plate and hitting some of those decent pitches that he makes.

"It will help vs. both right-handers and left-handers."

If you count the one-hitter Tillman pitched in his last Triple-A start before that outing at Texas, Tillman has allowed just three hits and one run over his last 16 1/3 innings, with one game in the minors and one in the Majors.

In two starts last year vs. Tampa, Tillman gave up four runs on 12 hits over 12 2/3 innings.

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