Tillman: “It was a struggle for me early and I think it’s coming”

Chris Tillman says he was able to throw his fastball for strikes tonight in Game 2 of the doubleheader against the Rays.

“Any time you are able to throw to both sides of the plate and mix in your off-speed,” he said, “it’s kind of a recipe for success.”

The Orioles could have been fried after a Game 1 loss, but they earned a split with a 4-1 victory in the nightcap.

“I was able to get some early outs in the count,” he said. “They squared up a lot of balls, but we have eight great guys behind us, so I have all the confidence in the world in them. Keep executing.”

Is Tillman getting back to where he was in 2013?

“I think it’s still coming,” he said. “It’s still a process. You can’t settle. You’ve always got to keep working. Next time I want to throw my breaking ball better for strikes. I was able to throw it, but very few were in the zone for good pitches. You’ve always got to get better.

“It was a struggle for me early and I think it’s coming. Wally (Dave Wallace) made some big adjustments with me and it’s coming along.

“I think it’s more of a mechanical (change), which transfers over to confidence, I think. When you’re able to make some pitches in the bullpen and you really show it, then I think it kind of carries over to the game.”

Tillman just needs to remember how he got it done last season. Use his memory.

“It’s important any time you can fall back on what you’ve done in the past,” he said. “As long as you can remember what the keys were, what would get you back on line and back in the zone.

“Nicky (Hundley) did a great job for me tonight. I’d get out of the zone and he’d call certain pitches to get me right back in. So my hat’s off to him.”

The bullpen was mostly spared with only three relievers needed over two games.

“The starting pitcher’s job is to go deep into games,” he said, “so I know I did my job.”

So did Hundley, who hit his first home run as an Oriole to give them a 2-1 lead in the sixth.

“It was great,” he said. “I was awful my first 20-25 bats offensively. Probably trying to do too much, new team, but it’s nice to get that first one out of the way and contribute and help us win in a big situation.

“The last two weeks, I’ve felt more comfortable. The process has been better, getting back to the way I feel like I can swing the bat. I know I can contribute and this is a great lineup, great offensive team, and I know I can contribute to it.”

The ball stayed inside the left field foul pole.

“I know I hit it good enough,” he said. “I just made sure it was fair. I might have waited there a little longer than I normally would, but when it was that close I think I can do that. Pick up the pace a little around the bases.”

How did the dugout react?

“I think I was a little more pumped up than I would normally be just because it was my first one here,” he said. “It was fun to celebrate with them and take the lead.”

Hundley offered his opinion of Tillman.

“He threw the ball great,” Hundley said. “His fastball command was terrific. He was ahead in a lot of counts, got the majority of outs on his fastball. When you can do that and you’re making guys swing and making guys swing early, you can go deep in games. It was a very impressive performance.”

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