Tillman leaves early, Flaherty pitches, Orioles lose 12-2

Chris Tillman couldn’t locate his pitches tonight and his velocity was down, the fastball sitting in the upper 80s. These are disturbing signs for a pitcher who had to be pushed back due to a sore right shoulder.

Also disturbing is the latest loss to the Astros, which included Ryan Flaherty’s pitching debut in the ninth inning, and the threat of losing another home series.

Tillman couldn’t get an out in the third inning and was done after 67 pitches, only 33 of them strikes. He allowed six runs and the Orioles were beaten 12-2 before 39,373 at Camden Yards.

Imagine arriving too late for the Crush Davis/Samson bobblehead and then this happens.

Manager Buck Showalter emptied his bench and moved Flaherty from third base, where he made a diving stop and throw in the eighth, to the mound. Jason Castro greeted him with a home run. Because, why not?

Tony Kemp grounded out, but back-to-back doubles by George Springer and Alex Bregman increased the lead to 12-2. Tyler White flied out, Pedro Alvarez committed a throwing error at third base on Carlos Correa’s grounder and Evan Gattis grounded out.

Two runs off Flaherty, who threw 12 of 19 pitches for strikes and is making a push for the starting rotation. The 83-84 mph fastball may be a detriment, however.

Chris Davis was the last Orioles position player to pitch on May 6, 2012 at Fenway Park.

The Orioles have been outscored 27-10 in the last two games. They’re 67-55 overall, 40-21 at home and 2 1/2 games out of first place. They’re 9-15 in their last 24 games.

chris-tillman-white-follow-through-Sidebar.jpgThis is Tillman’s shortest start since opening day, and he had a weather-related excuse. Rain caused the game to be delay after he retired the first six Twins batters, striking out five of them.

The only similarity tonight was the early departure. Tillman allowed a leadoff single to George Springer and two-run homer from Bregman. The Astros scored two more runs in the second, increasing Tillman’s pitch count to 49, and he was done in the third after a hit batter and three consecutive walks.

Tillman allowed six hits and walked five batters. He struck out none. His ERA grew from 3.46 to 3.76, but the level of concern easily exceeds it.

Odrisamer Despaigne was charged with four runs and five hits in three-plus innings. He threw 71 pitches and could be headed back to Triple-A Norfolk, with the Orioles needing another long reliever for Sunday.

I’ll toss out Parker Bridwell’s name. He moved up to Norfolk and threw three scoreless innings on Tuesday. He’s rested, on the 40-man roster and capable of going multiple innings for a team that gladly would take three or four good ones.

Tillman and Wade Miley combined to allow 12 runs in 3 2/3 innings over the past two nights. How’s your rotation?

Orioles pitchers walked 10 batters, which never is a good idea. Flaherty wasn’t responsible for any of them, however. The guy’s a strike-thrower.

Davis homered to left-center field in the fourth inning, his fifth in four nights, to reduce the lead to 6-1. The last Orioles to hit a home run in four straight games?

Trick question. It’s Davis, who did it in five straight on June 7-12 versus the Royals and Blue Jays.

The Orioles did little else with Mike Fiers, who entered the game with a 4.66 ERA in 23 outings and had allowed nine runs - including five home runs - in his last two starts over 9 2/3 innings.

Fiers was replaced tonight by Brad Peacock after seven innings. Steve Pearce homered in the eighth, his first since rejoining the Orioles.

Pearce replaced Jonathan Schoop at second base in the top of the inning. Schoop had played every inning and every out this season.

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