The Orioles’ four-run rally tonight in the sixth inning not only gave the team the lead but led to another special moment for lefty reliever Ashur Tolliver.
A pitcher that finally got to the majors this year after being drafted in 2009, Tolliver got his first major league win in his fifth big league appearance.
In the postgame clubhouse, he was asked if the game ball will find its way to a special place. It will indeed.
“You know what? I have a son on the way coming in the next two weeks,” Tolliver said. “I’ll probably put it in a little case and we’ll probably put that in his room. July 7 is the due date and we’re thinking it might be a little sooner than that. I’m getting close to being on standby. It’s coming quick. First one.”
Tolliver got two outs in the top of the sixth, stranding two runners. The Orioles trailed 3-1. But by the end of the sixth, they led 5-3. Tolliver didn’t initially realize he could get this win.
“You know, I didn’t think about it. I was still kind of thinking about the outing a little bit,” he said. “I knew I was out of the game. I wasn’t as sharp as I would have like to have been. After OD (Odrisamer Despaigne) went out there, I started thinking about it. We had scored all those runs after I got the last out. ‘If this holds up, it will be pretty cool.’ What a great team win.”
After the Orioles had rallied to lead 5-3, their last run came on Manny Machado’s home run in his first game back off his four-game suspension. He hit No. 18 in the last of the eighth.
“It was exciting to be back out there helping my teammates and it was great to come away with a win today. It felt like forever, like I had not played in a couple of weeks. Totally different watching the game on TV then actually being on the field,” Machado said.
“(Yovani) Gallardo gave us an opportunity. He kept us in the game and gave us a fighting chance. That is what separates winners and losers and great teams. We have a great thing going on here and our pitchers just need to keep us in the game, keep us close and we’ll take care of the rest, scoring runs however we need to score them. It was a great job by Gallardo and our bullpen keeping us where they needed to keep us.”
Machado went 2-for-4 and was robbed of at least extra bases on a deep drive to center in the first inning. But in the eighth, his 393-foot drive went into the right-field stands.
“It felt good,” he said. “I wasn’t sitting at home drinking some beer and not doing anything. I was in here working out, in the cage and doing what I needed to do. I knew it wasn’t a vacation. I need to help this team in whatever I can, defense and offense. Nice to know my swing is still there.”
But before the Orioles’ comeback, Gallardo had to turn around his outing and he did. He allowed four hits and three runs to the first four batters he faced, and then no runs on three more hits over 5 1/3 innings for the game.
“That first inning, made a couple of mistakes,” Gallardo said. “Especially that pitch to (Corey) Dickerson (who hit a two-run homer). Wanted a cutter up in the zone and it just stayed down and in. That is one spot I wanted to stay away. But that inning, got a big double play. Wanted to put up zeroes the rest of the way.”
After he fell behind 3-0 to the Rays, Gallardo was trying to stay upbeat and put up zeroes.
“You have to. Throughout my career, I’ve been in that situation before. It’s definitely not a good feeling, but I’ve also seen the kind of lineup we have in this clubhouse,” he said. “They’re going to hit and put up some runs. You’re one pitch away (when in trouble). Got out of that first inning. It could have been worse, but when you have a rough inning you then have to put up zeroes.”
And it was nice to have Machado back patrolling third base and batting third.
“Everybody looks to things that he does on offense and defense,” Gallardo said. “Those four games were different without him in the lineup. But up and down our lineup, it’s not an easy lineup. No breaks, but having Manny in there makes us that much better.”
Gallardo made his 250th career start tonight, becoming the 22nd active pitcher in the majors to accomplish the feat. He also surpassed 1,500 career innings and now is at 1,502, Righty Brad Brach appeared in his 250th career game. He owns a 1.08 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 33 games this season. Machado has hit safely in seven of his last eight games - with six multi-hit efforts - batting .457 (16-for-35) with four doubles, three home runs and five RBIs.