This week, I caught up with the Orioles' All-Star starting pitcher Chris Tillman. We talked about his success since last July, where the Orioles sit now, the difference in the Baltimore organization, and his favorite pitcher growing up.
Q: How satisfied were you with your performance in the first half of the season?
CT: I'm happy with it. I don't think you can really be satisfied, still got a lot of room for improvement, still got a lot of baseball to play. Keep working, and hopefully we'll play some good baseball the second half.
Q: Do you feel like it's been key for you to keep the team in games and give them a chance to win, even on nights you don't have your best stuff?
CT: Yeah, I think that's important as a starting pitcher. Go out there, get as deep as you possibly can in the game and keep it close. Give your team a chance to win and I think your job's done for the day. I think the biggest part is being consistent with that.
Q: Do you think that since you were called up last July, you've been in the best stretch of your career?
CT: You could say that, but we've got a long way to go. I'm not looking at it that way right now. I've got more things to worry about for the second half and we've got to keep going. It's not over yet.
Q: Has there been any difference for you over the past 12 months from your first few years with the Orioles?
CT: Nothing different, other than a few mechanical changes, being able to make my pitches when I need to. I think execution's been big for me this year. When you've got runners in scoring position and less than two outs, you've got to make some pitches there and get some outs. I think that's been probably the bigger part than it has in the past where I struggled doing that.
Q: Do you think the team is in a good spot to make another playoff push?
CT: I think we know where we're at. I think we've got better baseball ahead of us, but at the same time I think we're not worried about it. We're not stressed in this clubhouse. We're going to keep grinding away and getting after it.
Q: How much help is it to have this lineup hitting the way it has most of the season?
CT: Big, it's huge. These guys are awesome to watch play, I enjoy coming to the field every day and watching these guys play. We appreciate the fact that they've been doing their job.
Q: Is clubhouse chemistry and having the same core group of guys something that you think has helped turn this organization around?
CT: Absolutely. When I got called up last year, first thing I noticed when I walked in the clubhouse was it was a whole different feel in the clubhouse, a whole different vibe. I can't say enough about these guys that made the change, kind of got every one on board, and it's a lot of fun to be around here. Win, lose, rain or shine, it's a much better clubhouse to be in.
Q: You've pitched particularly well against teams out west, especially on the road in your homestate (California) and against your former team (Seattle). Are they your favorite places to pitch?
CT: I enjoy pitching everywhere. It doesn't matter where it is to tell you the truth. I don't think there's a rhyme or reason to it. Pitching on the west coast, I can't put my finger on it, I enjoy pitching.
Q: Who was your favorite player when you were growing up?
CT: When I was growing up as a little kid, I used to love watching Roger Clemens. I watched a lot of guys, I was a big Angel fan so I watched a lot of those guys, but my favorite pitcher to watch was Roger Clemens.
Q: Did you learn anything from watching Clemens pitch?
CT: I don't think I tried to be like him, no. He was a special breed and it's hard to do that. I enjoyed watching him pitch and the way he attacked hitters.