It wasn’t that long ago that Buck Showalter said he felt playing 20 games in 20 days - a stretch the Orioles are currently in the middle of - could be a good thing for the starting pitchers.
He figured getting the pitchers working on an every-fifth-day routine would be a good thing and perhaps recent results prove he was right about that.
Over the last seven games, O’s starters have produced five quality starts for their best stretch of the season. The starters’ ERA is 3.19 in the seven games.
The starters’ ERA for the year has dropped from 4.92 to 4.36 in that time. The Orioles have moved from near the bottom of the American League in rotation ERA to now rank eighth.
In this series at Oakland, Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen have combined to pitch 14 innings, allowing five hits and two runs (both unearned).
Oakland leads the AL with 126 runs scored, but in this series, A’s batters have gone 9-for-62 (.145) with just two runs scored and are 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
Today, Chris Tillman (0-1, 5.23 ERA) makes his fifth start. After working to an ERA of 7.07 over his first three starts, he pitched well Monday against Toronto, going 6 2/3 innings, allowing just four hits and one run, throwing 103 pitches.
His mound opponent today, unlike Tillman, pitched well his first three starts (2.25 ERA) but struggled his last time. A.J. Griffin went four innings Monday against Boston, allowing eight hits and nine runs (seven earned). He has allowed 10 of his 14 runs in the fourth and fifth innings.
Update: The A’s matched their run total of the series’ first two games by scoring twice in the first three innings today to lead 2-0 against Tillman and the O’s. Josh Donaldson drove in both runs.
Meanwhile, on offense, the O’s struggled against Griffin’s secondary pitches the first time through the order with just a bunt hit from Manny Machado. Now we’ll see if they can adjust the second time through the order.
They adjusted: Yes they did, scoring four runs in the top of the fourth. Nick Markakis hit a two-run homer on a 1-2 curveball and Adam Jones followed by blasting a solo shot to center. Later, a J.J. Hardy RBI single scored Chris Davis, who was running on the pitch, all the way from first base.
The Orioles had hit just one homer the previous five games and then hit two in a row. Markakis, by the way, now has eight RBIs in his last seven games.