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Tillman named American League All-Star replacement

BALTIMORE - Manny Machado, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, and Chris Davis all strolled onto the field at Camden Yards before Sunday's game to receive their All-Star jerseys in a special All-Star send-off pregame ceremony.
But then, to the surprise of everyone, a fifth Baltimore Oriole arose from the home dugout as a new addition to the American League All-Star team - starting pitcher Chris Tillman.
As in recent years, there were All-Star pitchers who pitched Sunday and Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement allows pitchers who pitch the Sunday before the All-Star Game to opt out if they want.
Tillman was the beneficiary of Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander pitching Sunday and pulling out of Tuesday's All-Star Game, as Tillman was selected by Tigers manager Jim Leyland to fill the spot. It will be the Orioles right-hander's first All-Star Game appearance.
"It was a big surprise, found out earlier today," Tillman said after Sunday's game. "It's a big honor to be going to something like this."
Tillman, 25, has been stellar for Baltimore since he was recalled from Class-AAA Norfolk last season on July 4. This season, he owns an 11-3 record and sports a 3.95 ERA.
He said he found out it was a possibility he could be heading to Citi Field in New York as an All-Star on Saturday, but it wasn't confirmed until Sunday when Detroit's game began and Verlander threw his first pitch.
"[Pitching coach] Rick [Adair] and I were checking the weather in Detroit today, making sure it wasn't going to rain," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. "I've never been such a fan of good weather in Detroit.
"It was tough for Chris because he made plans to do some things over the break. Obviously, he changed them. ... It's a great moment for him and he deserves it. He's been solid for us."
Since his first start last season, Tillman is 20-6 with a 3.51 ERA. He has won seven of his last eight starts and only lost once since May 19.
Tillman has been more consistent this season than any other since the Orioles acquired him in a trade with the Mariners in 2008.
In his first three seasons in Baltimore, Tillman was 7-15 with a 5.58 ERA. But in Spring Training last year, Tillman worked with Rick Peterson to retool his mechanics and modify his delivery.
Since then, the difference has been substantial.
"Nothing different than a few mechanical changes, and being able to make my pitches when I need to," Tillman said prior to Sunday's game. "Execution's been big for me this year. When you have runners in scoring position and less than two outs, you've got to make some pitches there, get some outs.
"I think that's probably been the biggest part this year than it has in the past, where I struggled doing that."
It is the first time the Orioles will have five All-Stars since 1997, when they had six (Roberto Alomar, Brady Anderson, Jimmy Key, Mike Mussina, Randy Myers, and Cal Ripken Jr). Also, it is only the second time since 1972 Baltimore has had a handful of All-Stars.
"It says a lot, it has a lot to do with the fans to tell you the truth," Tillman said after the game. "It's special. I think it makes it more special for all of us to be there together."
Tillman said the earlier parts of his career were a "rollercoaster ride" as he went up and down from the majors to the minors, as his performances were also up and down.
But now, his career has taken a turn for the better. And Tillman's teammates, as well as the rest of the league, have taken notice.
"We were all just as excited as he was when we found out today," Orioles first baseman Chris Davis said. "The guy's worked hard all year. He's been a guy that we really depend on, and a guy that has really been a horse for us. I'm glad to see him get the nod and its shows us that people are paying attention"

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