Pitching falls short for Orioles in 8-3 loss (updated)

NEW YORK - The leash was a little longer today for Orioles starter Chris Tillman, who took the mound less than 24 hours after the Orioles played 5 hours, 20 minutes and needed 14 innings to win their second consecutive game.

At 84 pitches through the fifth and with the score tied, Tillman came back out for the sixth and retired only one batter while the Yankees took a two-run lead. He faced five batters and allowed a walk, single sacrifice fly and two more singles - the last a blooper from Austin Romine down the right field line that Chris Davis nearly caught with his back to the infield.

The ball popped out of his glove and the balloon burst.

No three-game winning streak for the Orioles, who lost 8-3 and will try to avoid a split Sunday afternoon before heading home.

Tillman was charged with five runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings, with four walks, three strikeouts and two wild pitches. He threw 106 pitches, only 58 for strikes.

Machado-Runs-Black-Sidebar.jpgThe Yankees tied the game in the fifth on a single, walk, wild pitch and Aaron Judge’s ground ball that Manny Machado turned into an out with a spectacular backhanded stop and throw across his body as his momentum carried him toward the line.

The bullpen wasn’t at full strength and the Orioles had to summon Jimmy Yacabonis from Triple-A Norfolk. Yacabonis allowed three runs in the seventh after a 10-pitch leadoff walk to Brett Gardner that eventually was followed by a two-run single from Tyler Austin on the 10th pitch. Plate umpire Jerry Meals, who doubles as crew chief and pool reporter go-to guy, squeezed Yacabonis and it hurt the Orioles.

Leadoff walks in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings definitely left a mark.

Left-hander Richard Bleier threw 26 pitches last night and faced one batter today, getting a double play grounder from Ronald Torreyes after replacing Tillman.

Rule 5 pick Nestor Cortes Jr. was the likely choice if Tillman had been knocked out early. Darren O’Day wasn’t available last night, but he probably could have worked an inning today.

The bullpen already has some trap doors for a team attempting to carry two Rule 5 picks. Going 14 innings expands the danger zone. Yacabonis offered a fresh arm, but there wasn’t the maneuverability to allow for others.

Cortes worked the eighth with the Orioles behind 8-3 and stranded two runners. His first appearance at Yankee Stadium after the Orioles selected him from New York’s organization in the Rule 5 draft.

Machado had a game-tying two-run double in the third inning and Pedro Álvarez gave the Orioles a 3-2 lead in the fourth with his RBI double after Tim Beckham singled. Tillman followed with his only clean inning - a shutdown inning, as the kids call it - he couldn’t sustain the momentum.

The Orioles recorded three outs on rundowns. A theme of this series, which the Orioles will attempt to win on Sunday.

Update: The Orioles will contemplate making another roster move before Sunday’s finale after Yacabonis threw 27 pitches in the seventh inning. Manager Buck Showalter said he had five relievers he wasn’t going to use today.

“Potentially,” Showalter said. “I haven’t heard from Dan (Duquette) yet, but I’m sure there will be some conversation about it, I suppose. It depends on what’s available.”

Triple-A Norfolk didn’t play today due to inclement weather. David Hess is the scheduled starter on Sunday.

Showalter thought Tillman was “better” today than the right-hander’s debut outing.

“And there’s still another level where we know he can go to,” he said. “We really had a need to get some length out of our starter today and Chris provided that and kept us engaged in the game.”

The Orioles put runners on second and third with one out in the seventh on singles by Chance Sisco and Trey Mancini, but David Robertson struck out Machado and Jonathan Schoop. The Yankees responded with three runs off Yacabonis in the bottom half.

“Every time you can score a run, it’s a big moment,” Schoop said. “We have to get better with runners in scoring position and try to drive guys in, especially with a good team over there. Today, we didn’t do it. Throw it away today and try to get it tomorrow.”

“Even at 5-3 we had a shot there second and third and one out and kind of bit us,” Showalter said. “We’d like to have pushed across and we might have tried to do something different with the ‘pen.”

Strategy changes after relievers are needed to cover the last nine innings of a 5 hour, 20 minute game.

“Oh yeah, but it’s a byproduct of winning the game last night in 14 innings,” Showalter said. “But we stayed engaged. I was impressed the way our guys came out and competed well. (Sonny) Gray pitched a little bit better than Tilly and we didn’t get much shutdown after that. Jimmy came in, flew in today. Just making some mistakes that he needs to graduate from.”

Showalter could have removed Tillman after the fifth with the score tied and gone for the feel-good story, but last night’s marathon sliced through any thoughts of being sentimental.

“And put who in?” Showalter asked. “He pitched better than he did last time and it was a step in the right direction. Hopefully, that bodes well for the future with him.”

Asked to gauge how much better Tillman is in 2018 compared to last summer, Showalter replied, “It’s way too early. He was better today than last time. I’m hoping he’s a little better next time. You could tell he had a little better feel for things in a very cold day, so I’m hoping it gets better as we go.”

Showalter used Bleier for one batter in the sixth and didn’t want to bring him back out for the seventh to face Brett Gardner and then summon Yacabonis against Judge and Stanton.

“I just wanted to get him up one time,” Showalter said of Bleier. “I don’t want to have him get up twice. You all know. It’s just not good business. You’re going to pay the piper there.”

Showalter wanted Yacabonis to “get his feet wet” after being recalled this morning. The 10-pitch walk to Gardner led to the inning unraveling.

“Just can’t walk that guy,” Showalter said. “Some of the things we’ve got to graduate from. But it’s a tough travel day. But sometimes that’s the opportunity you get.”

The Orioles already have matched their win total from 2017 at Yankee Stadium, but last night took a lot out of them.

“It was tough, but you’ve got to find a way to play,” Schoop said. “That’s why we’re in the big leagues. You’ve got to find a way to get ready and try to win. We did, but we came up short today.”

wright-pitching-white-tall.jpgThe rotation eventually will be altered with Alex Cobb’s arrival, perhaps on April 14 or 15. In the meantime, Mike Wright Jr. starts Sunday while occupying the last spot and Tillman continues to move past his nightmarish 2017 season.

“Mechanically, I feel better,” he said. “My pitches are better. I think the (opposing) offense will let me know. The results haven’t really been there yet, but I feel much more confident with what I’m able to do. I’m able to make pitches and even when I miss I’m able to get back on track. Just got to keep going.”

Tillman took the mound knowing that Showalter’s options in the bullpen were limited.

“I think you need to get deeper into the game,” he said. “Got some quick outs early and often. That’s a big part of baseball is picking up the bullpen when they are down. Last night was such a long game, you need to get deep into that game. I was one or two pitches from getting really deep into that game.”

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