By Alejandro Zuniga
The Baltimore Sun
10:00 AM EDT, July 13, 2014
Chris Tillman may not have 11 wins like he did at the midway point last season, but his numbers have been far from disappointing.
Including Saturday’s loss to the New York Yankees, the Orioles right-hander is 7-5 with a 4.11 ERA going into the All-Star break. Last year, when he was invited to the All-Star Game, his ERA was only a few ticks lower, at 3.95.
“I think it bodes well, hopefully for the rest of the season, because he seems to be getting more consistent mechanically as we go,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “I hope that’s the case. We’re going to need him.
“Chris, on a given night, has a level that puts him up in a high status.”
Admittedly, Tillman has struggled with walks more than he did last season. He has issued 48 free passes this year, compared to 41 in 2013 -- albeit in one fewer start -- and his strikeout-to-walk ratio has fallen from 2.17 to 1.54.
But Tillman has surrendered eight fewer home runs in the first half. Ignore a disastrous start in which he allowed five runs in just one inning to the Texas Rangers on June 5 and his ERA drops to 3.76.
On Saturday, Tillman gave up three runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings against the Yankees. But the Orioles offense was stagnant -- their No. 3 through No. 6 hitters went 0-for-16 with 10 strikeouts -- and he was tagged with a loss.
“It’s another one of those that kind of gets looked at [and] not probably properly appreciated because of what the other guy was doing,” Showalter said. “He had people out there [on base] a lot and seemed to be a hit or two away from letting it get away from him, but he didn’t.”
It’s not always fair to nitpick statistics or dwell on what-ifs, but Showalter and the Orioles aren’t discouraged by what has, on the surface, seemed like a shaky half-season.
“The way I look at it, I could have and should have been better early,” Tillman said. “I’m looking forward to the second half.”
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