Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman might not be the biggest name in pitching in the major leagues right now, but his performance over the past two seasons ranks among the best.
Since the beginning of the 2012 season, Tillman is 16-5 for a .762 winning percentage. That winning percentage is the fourth-best in all of baseball for players with at least 20 decisions. Tillman ranks behind only Cincinnati’s Mat Latos (.833), Detroit’s Max Scherzer (.781) and St. Louis’s Lance Lynn (.765). He entered the night tied with the Los Angeles Angels’ Jered Weaver and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Zack Greinke (.750), but he pulled ahead with his six-plus shutout innings of three-hit baseball.
Tillman has also won the third-most games in the American League since July 4, 2012. His 16 wins rank behind only Scherzer and fellow Tiger Justin Verlander, who have 18 and 17 wins, respectively, in that span.
The Orioles have performed just as well as Tillman over almost the exact same span. Since July 29, 2012, the Orioles have the best winning percentage in the majors at .620, and they are tied with Oakland — who had a late game against Seattle on Friday night — for the most wins over that span with 80.
A good portion of that success has come against Boston. The Orioles have taken 13 of the past 17 and 23 of the past 32 against the Red Sox, and the Orioles haven’t dropped back-to-back games to the Red Sox in the past 32 meetings, either.
The Orioles’ pitching staff has held Boston to 12 hits in the first two games of the series, and the Red Sox are hitting .162 in the two Orioles wins. In the teams’ five meetings, Orioles pitching is holding the Red Sox lineup — one that features center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, second baseman Dustin Pedroia and designated hitter David Ortiz — to a .181 batting average.
The Orioles’ relievers have been a big part of that. In its last 9 1/3 innings of work, the bullpen hasn’t allowed a hit or a walk. Right-handers Darren O’Day, Tommy Hunter and Jim Johnson worked both Thursday and Friday.
Johnson also recorded his major-league leading 24th save of the season. He’s converted nine straight — he converted an Orioles-record 35 straight from July 2012 to May — after a rough patch where he blew four of five opportunities.
In the 10-game stretch that also includes his appearance in a non-save situation Thursday, Johnson has allowed one run and five hits in 9 1/3 innings. He hasn’t walked a batter and has struck out six.
First baseman Chris Davis extended his major-league lead with his 22nd home run of the season in the second inning. Last season, his 22nd home run came against Toronto on Aug. 24. He’s now on pace to hit 52 home runs this season.
Since breaking an 0-for-16 streak Tuesday against the Los Angeles Angels, Davis is batting .400 (6-for-15) with two home runs and five RBIs in the past four games.
Third baseman Manny Machado also extended some league leads of his own. Machado was 3-for-4 with two doubles, extending his hit streak to a career-high 12 games. He leads all of baseball in both hits and doubles with 95 and 30, respectively. Friday night was also the third straight multi-hit game for Machado and his first three-hit game since May 27 at Washington.
Left fielder Nate McLouth tied a career high with his 23rd stolen base of the year in the fifth inning. He stole 23 bases in 2008 with Pittsburgh, but that total came in 152 games. This season? The Orioles have played 68.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun