In the latest edition of you never know in baseball, a pitcher with an ERA of 9.87 tonight ended a 22-start winless streak with seven shutout innings.
The until-now struggling Chris Tillman stunned more than a few people tonight by pitching a gem as the Orioles beat the Detroit Tigers 6-0 on a combined two-hitter to start a three-game weekend series at Camden Yards.
But Tillman was outstanding throwing 98 pitches and allowing just one hit - a double to left by José Iglesias with one out in the fifth. Tillman walked two and fanned five and retired the side in order four times.
He certainly didn’t blow the Tigers away with velocity. His four-seam fastball averaged 87.8 mph tonight. But he showed several effective secondary pitches. Over his first four starts, Tillman got a combined 16 swings and misses. He got 10 tonight.
Opposing batters had hit .395 this year off Tillman and left-handed batters hit .474 against him as he went 0-4 over his first four starts. Tonight, Tigers batters went 1-for-22 against him.
The Orioles backed Tillman with the longball. Machado connected with two outs in the first. He hit a Mike Fiers 2-0 slider 413 feet to center for the 1-0 lead. It was Machado’s sixth homer over his last eight games and No. 9 on the year. Machado began the day tied for third in the American League in homers.
Álvarez hit the first of his two tonight when he blasted a 416-foot solo shot to right in the fifth for a 2-0 lead. In the seventh, Álvarez hit a two-run homer 421 feet for a 5-0 lead. It was his 14th career multi-homer game and first of this year. Between Álvarez’s homers, the O’s took a 3-0 lead in the sixth on a Jace Peterson RBI double. Baltimore scored its final run on Machado’s single that scored Peterson in the last of the eighth.
But the story tonight was the shutout pitching of Tillman, the most unlikely O’s starter to produce such an outing in 2018. Richard Bleier pitched the eighth and Mychal Givens the ninth as the Orioles recorded their first shutout.
The Orioles ended a five-game losing streak and are now 7-19. They won for just the second time in 13 games and the third in 16. They are now 4-9 at home.