Carroll County Times

Markakis RBI wins it for Orioles in ninth

BALTIMORE - It was cold, and there were few fans left in the stands by the time Nick Markakis came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth.

Markakis worked the count to 1-2, and poked an opposite-field single to left field to score Chris Davis and the Orioles had a 2-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays before 11,168 chilled fans at Oriole Park Monday night.

With the score tied at 1, Davis was hit by a pitch from Aaron Loup (1-2) leading off the ninth. He moved to second on a bunt by J.J. Hardy, and after Nolan Reimold was intentionally walked with two outs, Alexi Casilla reached on an error by shortstop Munenori Kawasaki to load the bases.

Then, Markakis tapped the ball to left, and the Orioles (11-8) had the win.

"I was in battle mode then, just looking for a pitch anywhere around the zone, don't try to overswing, just put the ball in play," Markakis said.

Jim Johnson (1-1) was the winner. He retired the three batters he faced.

Chris Tillman matched the longest outing of the year for an Orioles starter. In 6Ð innings, he allowed a run on four hits, all singles, striking out three and walking three.

In his previous three outings, Tillman hadn't gotten through more than 5Ï.

"He had all his pitches working. He had four pitches he could throw for strikes, and we really didn't break out the cutter until late in the game, which is nice. When you can have his fourth pitch stay in the bag, so to speak, till the third time in the lineup, gives you a lot of weapons to use late in the game. He got a lot of first-pitch outs and was able to throw strikes early," Matt Wieters said.

Tillman pitched well on a difficult night.

"I was able to get ahead with my pitches early and my secondary stuff was there for me. I was able to pound the strike zone early and kind of make the pitches when I needed to," Tillman said.

The Orioles scored their first run in the bottom of the sixth off Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ on Davis' sacrifice fly.

Toronto (8-12) tied it off Tillman in the seventh. He had a one-hitter through six, but allowed three singles in the seventh. Colby Rasmus' RBI single evened the score.

NOTES: It was a frustrated Buck Showalter who talked about the demotion of Jake Arrieta. On Sunday, Arrieta couldn't hold a three-run lead in the fifth inning. In fact, he didn't get a batter out.

It was no surprise Monday when the Orioles optioned him to Norfolk.

"He's being sent out because we need a pitcher in the bullpen. OK?," manager Buck Showalter said. "Because of the way he pitched and the number of innings we had to pitch, we needed an arm."

In four starts, Arrieta was 1-1 with a 6.63 ERA and he walked 16 batters in 19 innings.

Showalter is convinced Arrieta has the physical tools to succeed in the big leagues.

"I think the thing you've got to solve is the mental side of it and the emotional side of it, which I think directly affects the mechanics," Showalter said.

Arrieta has started the last three home openers for the Orioles. In 2012, he started the first game of the season, and shut out Minnesota on two hits for seven innings, but three months later, he was back in Norfolk.

Now, he returns to the Tides.

"It's not going to be a challenge at all," Arrieta said.

"I don't plan on being down there for long. I need to just keep moving in the right direction. I just need to pound the strike zone. It's not a mechanical issue. It's not a physical issue. It's just going down there and doing it. I've done it before. I've done it for years. I've improved over the years, I need to keep improving. I need to be the guy that this team needs."

To replace Arrieta on the roster, the Orioles recalled right-hander Alex Burnett from Norfolk. Burnett, who pitched for three seasons for the Twins, was let go by Minnesota last month and picked up by Toronto. Baltimore acquired him on waivers April 12, and he was 1-0 in three scoreless appearances for the Tides.

WEDNESDAY STARTER: Showalter hasn't announced who is going to start Wednesday afternoon. The three main candidates are Zach Britton, Freddy Garcia and Josh Stinson, all of whom are on Norfolk's roster.

Showalter has eliminated relievers Tommy Hunter and T.J. McFarland, both of whom are needed in their present roles. He also doesn't want Wei-Yin Chen or Jason Hammel starting on three days rest.