CLEVELAND -- Chris Tillman isn’t exactly a salty veteran.
Tillman, 26, is in his second full season in the major leagues after bouncing back and forth from the minors for four years. So, in one sense, it’s strange to view him as a pitching sage imparting wisdom on younger hurlers.
In another sense, it’s a cool thing to hear.
And after right-hander Kevin Gausman’s two-hit, one-run outing Sunday afternoon against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field, the rookie said he had learned something important from Tillman earlier in the week.
In his last start Wednesday against the New York Yankees, Tillman allowed just two runs, five hits and no walks in seven innings. Afterward, Tillman was a bit down on himself. He felt fortunate because his stuff wasn’t particularly sharp.
Still, even with his command lacking, Tillman delivered another quality start. A couple days later he delivered a message to Gausman -- perhaps without intending to.
“I was talking to Tillman the other day, and he said the last time he pitched, he felt awful. And he pitched pretty well,” Gausman said. “The best guys at this level, they kind of learn that. As they go throughout their career, they figure out how to get through a lineup without their best stuff.”
That was in the back of Gausman's mind Sunday when he walked two of the first three batters he faced. Good major league pitchers can overcome mistakes like that and have a solid outing.
And that’s what Gausman did. He struck out only two batters. He matched a career high with four walks. He was far from dominant. But he turned in his fourth quality start in his last five outings. And that’s real encouraging as the Orioles go forward this season.
“He’s a big part of this team. [We] feel like he’s going to go learn from his mistakes and get better every start,” Orioles utility player Steve Pearce said about Gausman. “He’s got a lot of good stuff, a lot of good pitches. He’s got a rocket right arm, he throws real hard and has an advantage over a lot of other guys.
"When he starts to mature as a pitcher with his stuff, he’s going to be great for this staff.”