By Eduardo A. Encina
The Baltimore Sun
7:30 AM EDT, April 24, 2014
TORONTO – Chris Tillman certainly didn’t have his best outing in the Orioles’ 10-8 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night, but his ability to make adjustments and stay in the game following a nightmare six-run second inning undoubtedly gave the club a chance.
Down, 6-1, at the time, Orioles manager Buck Showalter admitted he was tempted to yank Tillman after the second inning, but he kept him in to see how he’d handle the third. And Tillman retired the Blue Jays in order, striking out Colby Rasmus and Brett Lawrie.
Showalter said Tillman might have given his team his best start because he was able to get into the sixth inning and prevent the bullpen from having to pitch extended innings. Showalter said two or three relievers weren't available Wednesday, but he didn't give any names.
Tillman said he was inspired by the fact that his teammates chipped away at the deficit in the next half-inning, scoring two runs to cut Toronto's lead to three. Nick Markakis’ one-out, run-scoring single was followed by Nelson Cruz’s solo homer, the first of two on the night (Cruz also hit a go-ahead grand slam in the fifth).
“I love watching these guys hit,” Tillman said. “As a starting pitcher, when they get going like that, my only mindset is get back in the dugout as fast as I can, so they can go back to work. This is a momentum game, and as long as we can keep it in our dugout for more of the game, I think we’ve got a good chance of winning.”
After the second inning, Tillman -- who allowed seven runs in 5 2/3 innings -- began to rely on his offspeed pitch.
“My fastball wasn’t cutting it,” he said. "I wasn’t able to command it. When I’m not able to command it, I have to go to Plan B.”
Three of his next five strikeouts came on changeups, and he also induced the Blue Jays into several weak popups.
“It’s hard to make those adjustments,” Tillman said. “I knew I didn't have it early on, and hats off to [catcher Matt Wieters] for hanging in there with me. I knew I had to pitch a little more offspeed than normal, and I think it’s big to be able to make an adjustment like that in-game. I’ll take my hats off to the offense for putting up those two runs there. It kind of got me going a little bit.
Here are some other nuggets from Wednesday’s win:
-- Chris Davis’ first-inning homer was his 18th against the Blue Jays since the beginning of the 2012 season, most of any player in baseball within that span. Teammate Adam Jones is second with 14. Davis has now reached safely in 19 straight games.
-- With a 2-for-5 night, Nick Markakis recorded his team-leading eighth multihit game.
-- Jonathan Schoop leads the team with seven doubles this season. He also had a multihit game, going 2-for-3, his fourth of the season.
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