O’s game blog: Chris Tillman starts Fenway Park series opener

Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman remains confident he is a different and better pitcher than he was last year. But so far, the stat sheet doesn’t provide much support of that.

When the Orioles begin a four-game series in Boston tonight, Tillman (0-2, 8.68 ERA) will make his third start. In his first outing of 2018 he gave up four runs over four innings in Houston. Then he allowed five in 5 1/3 at New York.

Over 9 1/3 innings he has yielded 15 hits and nine runs with eight walks to three strikeouts. Lefty batters are 7-for-13 against him, good for a batting average of .538 and a slugging percentage of 1.000.

tillman-throws-grey-sidebar.jpgTillman however, has solid career numbers both against Boston and at Fenway Park. In 21 career starts, he is 10-4 with a 3.03 ERA against the Red Sox. In nine starts at Fenway, Tillman has a 5-1 record and a 2.39 ERA.

Former Oriole lefty Eduardo Rodriguez (0-0, 7.36 ERA) will make his second start of 2018 tonight. He was on the disabled list from March 26-April 8 continuing with his recovery from offseason right knee surgery.

Last season he went 6-7 with a 4.19 ERA. In his season debut on Sunday versus Tampa Bay, he pitched 3 2/3 and gave up five hits and three runs on 92 pitches.

Rodriguez’s strikeout rate has increased in each of his three big league seasons, going from 7.25 in 2015 to 8.41 in 2016 and to 9.83 in 2017. Last year against Baltimore batters he went 1-2 with a 5.89 ERA. In 10 career starts he is 3-5 with a 4.67 ERA and 1.222 WHIP against his former organization.

Boston just two took of three from the Yankees to improve to an AL-best 10-2, including a 5-1 mark at home. Boston’s 9-1 start (before Wednesday’s loss) was the best in the franchise’s 118-year history, as they became the first AL East team to win at least nine of a season’s first 10 games since the 2003 Yankees went 9-1.

Boston had a nice errorless-streak going to start this year. Until Christian Vázquez was credited with a throwing error in the sixth Wednesday, Boston was charged with zero errors in its first 10 games, the franchise’s longest streak to begin any season. No other team since at least 1913 has begun a season with 10+ straight errorless games.

The Orioles went 10-9 versus the Red Sox in 2017, winning the season series for the fifth time in six years. Since the 2012 season, the Orioles are 64-49 (.566) against Boston. The clubs played six series last season with the Orioles winning two and losing one with three tied.

The last two seasons the Orioles have gone 6-3 each year at Fenway Park. They are 23-15 at Fenway since the 2014 season.

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