On July 19, Chris Tillman gave up eight runs in just 2 2/3 vs. Tampa Bay.
For him, the rematch and the resumption of his Major League career comes tomorrow here at Camden Yards.
Tillman will make his 7th big league start of this season Sunday vs. the Rays. This is his third stint with the Orioles after going 11-7, 3.34 in 21 starts with Norfolk.
“I have to just go out and do what I know I can do. I’ve been pretty consistent down in Norfolk. That’s been the thing I wanted to work on since spring training, being consistent with all my pitches, outing to outing and pitch to pitch.”
Tillman was ticketed to be the O’s fifth starter on Opening Day, but that didn’t happen and he was asked if this year has been a step back for his career.
“I don’t think it was a step back at all. I don’t think it was a step forward, but not a step back either. I learned a lot this year. It’s been a big help. It’s been kind of a roller coaster year, but in the long run, it will be good for me.
“I learned about the mental part of the game. Everything is not always going to be easy and you have to battle your way through it. The mental part of the game may be more than the physical part. It’s been a tough year, but in the long run it’s going to benefit me.”
Tillman went 3-1, 3.18 in six August starts at Triple-A and pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings there on Tuesday vs. Gwinnett.
Now he finds himself competing for a rotation spot for 2011 with some of his best friends on the team and that’s the other young pitchers.
“I think it’s been that way for a while now. Ever since Double-A. It’s been Bergy and Hernandez, me, all of us. Matusz is a new addition. That brings out the best in everybody. A pat on the back when it’s going good but also to push each other along.”
So starting tomorrow, he gets the ball in the big leagues again with a chance to impress the new manager. But he’s trying not to put too much pressure on each outing.
“Absolutely, that’s a big part of it. Relax and have fun. That’s part of pitching. You may be nervous until the first pitch, then it goes away, for me anyway.”
Tillman admits the disappointment of being back in the minors this season made it tough for him to focus at first, but he also knew that had to change.
“That was the toughest part for me, maintaining focus, keeping yourself up and psyched for the game. The first three or four starts went pretty bad, but I got dialed in again and it’s been smooth since then.”