After all the heavy lifting Chris Davis has done for the Orioles' offense this year, you knew Buck Showalter was not going to be very critical of the guy for a ninth-inning error that led to the go-ahead run for Minnesota in their 6-5 win tonight at Camden Yards.
"Chris knows how we feel about him and he's done a great job at first base for us since the first day of spring," Showalter said. "He's been an asset for us there, just like he has offensively. Drove in a big run for us tonight. Muscled a ball out there and took a key walk. He's been a big contributor for us and will continue to be."
Showalter said it looked like the ball just skipped under the backhand try of Davis on a grounder by Aaron Hicks with one-out in the ninth.
The Orioles fell behind 5-2 in the third when the Twins scored four that inning off Chris Tillman, who gave up seven hits and five runs over 3 2/3 innings. Tillman made just two spring starts, but also pitched some in minor league games and he missed some time with an abdominal strain.
"Rust? No, not rust, he's thrown as much as any of our guys. He was ready," Showalter said. "He had good stuff. Had a really good first inning, but his command was a little off. I was real pleased with the stuff he featured, just couldn't get into a consistent rhythm after that first inning. Stuff-wise I was happy. He'll be better."
Showalter didn't feel the lack of facing a lot of bit league hitters during the spring hurt Tillman tonight.
"I don't think so. That would be an excuse that he won't use. We've had some guys that pitched well to start the season that were in pretty similar situations," he said.
T.J. McFarland made his big league debut tonight and pitched 3 1/3 innings of scoreless one-hit ball in an impressive first Orioles outing. He threw 28 of his 40 pitches for strikes.
"Mac was impressive," Showalter said. "Probably one of the big reasons why we got back in that ballgame. Situation where you are behind like that, someone has to go in and pitch multiple innings, something we were challenged with last year. That is one way Mac can help us. He got into a good rhythm and had good late life. Good tempo. Brought some tempo back to the game on our side.
"He got a little better and a little better (as the game went on). We could have taken him to five, but he had four good ups tonight. Real impressive, real proud of him. I know it was a big moment for him."