O’s catcher Matt Wieters said before the game that Chris Tillman can pitch well at his current velocity and then Tillman went out and proved that to be true.
We can all debate where Tillman’s velocity went and why he doesn’t throw low- to mid-90s more often now, but he doesn’t. It doesn’t mean he can’t win consistently or pitch well if he gets ahead hitters and has movement on his pitches and command of them.
Tillman’s outing last night was encouraging.
After yielding 10 runs and 15 hits over his previous two games, over 6 1/3, he went 6 2/3 versus the Twins. Tillman gave up six hits and three runs without a walk and with five strikeouts. He threw 96 pitches, 62 for strikes.
He gave up a two-run double to No. 8 hitter, Drew Butera, in the second, but not much else. When the Twins led off with fourth with a single and double to put runners on second and third with no outs, he got three straight outs to minimize the damage.
After allowing that double in the fourth, Tillman retired 11 straight Twins. He would have ended his outing with 12 in a row, save for an error.
Yes, this was a Twins’ lineup that has struggled to score runs and didn’t have Joe Mauer or Justin Morneau. But it still was a step forward for a pitcher that desperately needed one.
He kept his team in the game and threw every pitch without having a single run to work with. The O’s didn’t score until Tillman had left the game.
Can Tillman pitch well and win at 89 to 91 on the radar gun? The answer is clearly yes.
No one is saying he turned a corner or turned around his season with one outing. He needs to build on that, but last night was a start for him.
During a miserable eight-game stretch of baseball, it was at least one positive development.
You can click below to hear Wieters talk about what Tillman needs to do to be effective and if his velocity is a problem right now.