O’s game blog: Chris Tillman has a 1.26 ERA in August

It is a distant memory now, but from May 21 to June 5, Chris Tillman had an ERA of 12.56 over a four-start stretch that twice included him not getting a single out in the second inning.

Looking at how well Tillman is pitching now and with his current stats, it is hard to believe that actually happened. But it did.

On June 5, Tillman’s ERA was 5.20 and now he is 11-5 with a 3.41 ERA in 28 starts.

Heading into tonight’s start against Minnesota, Tillman is riding a streak of 15 straight starts allowing three or fewer earned runs. The last Orioles pitcher with a longer streak was Tom Phoebus with 16 straight from Sept. 23, 1969 to July 19, 1970.

During this run, Tillman is 6-2 with a 2.15 ERA and 13 quality starts. To put this another way, Miguel Gonzalez is second on the staff with 13 quality starts for the season and Tillman has 13 since June 10.

In five August starts, the right-hander has been exceptional, going 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA. In 35 2/3 innings, he has given up 19 hits with four walks, 27 strikeouts and a .156 average against.

We can debate whether Tillman is an ace and/or how he stacks up with other top pitchers in the league, but there seems to be no debate as to which pitcher is the Orioles’ No. 1 starter.

His mound opponent tonight is right-hander Kyle Gibson (11-10, 4.31 ERA). Gibson, a first-round draft pick (22nd overall) in 2009, has never faced the Orioles.

Over his last four starts, he is 1-2 with a 6.35 ERA allowing 27 hits in 22 2/3 innings.

Last night’s win gives the Orioles 11 series-opening wins in their last 13 tries.

Since starting the season 27-27 through May, the Orioles have gone 16-12 in June, 17-8 in July and they are 17-9 in August.

The Twins are 1-3 on their current seven-game road trip. They are 30-38 in road games, but are 12-11 in their last 23 away from Target Field.

Update: The Orioles win 3-2 on Chris Davis’ sac fly in the seventh. They move 22 games above .500 at 78-56.

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