Tillman’s evening started out perfectly Saturday. He threw just 13 pitches in the first, striking out two including former batting champ Joe Mauer. By the second, though, Tillman’s command began to abandon him. He had to throw 27 pitches in that inning, twice loading the bases but allowing just one run on a sacrifice fly.
Things unraveled in the third when Tillman allowed four runs, two coming off Chris Parmalee’s first homer of the season. Parmalee’s blast one-hopped the flag court fencing above the right field scoreboard. He was lifted with two outs in the fourth after throwing an inefficient 93 pitches, and only 55 for strikes.
“I felt good throughout the game. Physically I felt really good, mechanically I felt like I was fine,” Tillman said. “All game long, I was kind of yanking, yanking my fastball and my changeup. Made some good pitches with my changeup but I threw it to the wrong part of the plate.”
The Orioles did receive an impressive pitching performance on Saturday that lasted nearly as long as Tillman’s.
T.J. McFarland, a 23-year-old lefty that the Orioles selected from the Cleveland Indians in the Rule 5 draft this winter, made his big league debut in relief of Tillman.
And it was one to remember.
McFarland, who must stay on the Orioles’ 25-man roster all season or be offered back to the Indians at half the purchase price, pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings. He allowed just one hit and struck out five batters.
“It was an incredible feeling. Nothing beats it,” McFarland said. “The adrenaline, the excitement, I really can’t even put into words. It really is just the best feeling you could ever feel.”
McFarland entered the game in the fourth with two on and two out, and had to face Morneau, a former AL MVP. And it took the rookie one pitch to get Morneau to fly out and end the inning.
“I don’t think I will ever forget that at-bat,” McFarland said. “First-pitch out, too, which is real nice. I’m not going to forget that out.”