Francisco Peña on key throwing error and Chris Tillman on his outing

Orioles catcher Francisco Peña saw a great chance to get a key out this afternoon and he took it. But he didn’t get the result he wanted.

In the sixth inning of a 3-3 game, his costly throwing error allowed two Boston runs to score and the Red Sox went on to a 7-3 victory in the series finale.

With two outs, Chris Tillman had an 0-2 count on No. 9 hitter Devon Marrero and wanted to try and get him to chase a curveball to end the inning. Even with the bases loaded, Tillman wanted to bounce a pitch, perhaps a short-hop into Peña’s glove that would induce a strikeout.

Pena-White-Gear-Sidebar.jpgBut he threw it short of the target. Peña blocked the ball, but it strayed away from him far enough for Mitch Moreland, the runner at third, to come down the line. Peña was sure he could throw behind the runner for the key third out. But he threw it past Manny Machado to the foul side of the third base line. Two runs scored and the 3-3 game turned into a 5-3 Boston lead.

“It was a tough play right there,” Pena said. “Tough block. I had it in front of me. Just hesitated a little bit. I didn’t see Manny because Moreland was right in front of the line. I tried to be too quick, tried to put a perfect throw and I just messed it up right there. I just cut the ball a little too much and it went by Manny.”

Was Moreland blocking his throwing lane, making it a tough play and throw?

“Yeah, it was,” Peña said. “It was. But as a catcher, you are always aggressive. He’s giving you an out right there. You’ve got runners on base and a guy that puts the ball in play a lot. So I thought I had an opportunity and I took it. But bad throw. All I can do is come back tomorrow and try to win a ballgame.”

Tillman said of the play: “It was a great block. I was way short with it, trying to bounce it, but not there. And he made a good block. That was awesome. He was aggressive. I’d do that all over.”

The Orioles split the four-game series with Boston after winning the first two games. They have won one series and split three with Boston, going 7-6 overall.

“As a team, you are trying to win every series you play. But we’re still confident. Guys are still positive,” Peña said.

Tillman took the loss after giving up two runs in the first, a solo homer to Andrew Benintendi in the third and those two unearned runs in the sixth. Over six innings, he gave up six hits and five runs (three earned) and is 1-3 with an ERA of 5.59 over six starts. He had gone just 2 2/3 innings on Tuesday versus the Yankees.

“Little off in the first, but got better as I went and made some better pitches as the game got going,” Tillman said. “Today was much better. I am glad I was able to take that step. But early on, (I need to) make a few better pitches. Especially with the off-speed stuff. It was out of the zone and it forces you to use the fastball more in counts you normally wouldn’t. So have to be a little better with the off-speed stuff early on.”

Tillman was also a bit frustrated by issuing a season-high four walks that directly contributed to two Boston rallies.

“Especially early on, sets a (poor) tempo,” he said. “Guys got off to a pretty good start and to give that lead away is not good. Got to be better from the get-go.”

Tillman threw 103 pitches, 59 for strikes, and had 43 after the first two innings. He needed just 34 pitches over the next three innings before that jam he got into in the sixth. The Red Sox hitters made him work today.

“It’s a good team. I’ve felt like I’ve thrown the ball well against them, but they’re spoiling a lot of good pitches right now as you saw last night and today,” Tillman said. “They don’t swing at stuff very much for swing and misses. It’s more like foul off to make you work and make you make an adjustment on them. They’re a good team, but if you make your pitches you’ll be all right.”

Tillman has taken the loss in three straight starts for the first time since Aug. 27-Sept. 6, 2015. He is 1-6 in his last seven decisions at Oriole Park.

Jonathan Schoop had three hits today, two doubles and a single. He has 25 extra-base hits and began today fourth in the major leagues in extra-base hits among second baseman. He is batting .356 with eight RBIs against Boston in 2017.

But after winning the first two of this series, the Orioles lost the last two games. They scored seven runs Thursday, but just eight in the last three games of the series. O’s batters went 4-for-26 with runners in scoring positon in the series.

At 29-26 and 21-13 at home, the Orioles take Monday off and end this homestand hosting Pittsburgh on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

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