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A long night in the Bronx

That was an ugly sight for Orioles fans: watching right-hander Chris Tillman getting cuffed around badly in the swirling mist of Yankee Stadium last night.

Tillman is young -- he turns 23 tomorrow -- and better days are probably ahead for him. But he looked lost on this wet and dreary night in the Bronx.

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It looked like he didn't trust his stuff at all. And it looked like he came unglued early against the Yankees powerful lineup. That's what happens to a young pitcher when he allows hits to the first three batters he faces before Alex Rodriguez clubs an opposite-field homer to make it 3-0 before Yankee fans have even settled in their seats and begun jeering in earnest.

It was interesting -- and a little perplexing -- to hear Tillman tell MASN broadcaster Gary Thorne in the post-game interview that he thought his fastball and curveball were working well, and that his undoing was mainly a matter of poor pitch location.

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But in his own post-game remarks, O's manager Buck Showalter was more succinct -- and on point -- when he summed up Tillman's performance: "Not good."

Too bad for the Orioles. They need to make a statement to their fans. They need to show everyone that they're no longer the punchless, listless losers of years past. And a good way to do that is to put a beating on the mighty Yankees in their own house, to demonstrate that this Orioles team is no longer the perennial patsy of the American League East.

Orioles fans -- and baseball fans in general -- will still define the 2011 Orioles by how they do against the big boys in their division, the Yankees and Red Sox, especially with the Tampa Bay Rays seemingly headed for a tough year.

Maybe the Orioles can rebound tonight in the second game of this series. Maybe Jake Arrieta can battle and keep them in the game long enough for the lineup to get to Yankees starter Phil Hughes, who has looked absolutely awful (16.50 ERA) thus far.

We'll see. But these are the games the Orioles have to win to make believers of their fans -- and to ultimately fill the seats at Camden Yards, too.


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