SARASOTA, FLA. — Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman, who is lined up to start on Opening Day if the rotation doesn't change, yet again lamented the few well-hit balls that blemished what he said could have been an elusive strong start this spring.
Those, plus a tight strike zone, made for a difficult afternoon for Tillman in the Orioles' eventual 11-10 win over the New York Yankees Friday at Ed Smith Stadium.
Tillman allowed five runs on six hits and three walks in four-plus innings, bringing his ERA this spring to 9.31. He retired the side in order in the first, and looked as good as he has all spring, but couldn't sustain it the rest of the afternoon.
"I didn't think there were very many bad pitches," Tillman said. "There were a lot of good pitches. They made good contact, I think, twice all day. So I wasn't unhappy with it by any means."
Tillman said he felt good physically, and would have continued pitching had it been necessary, but instead ceded the mound to debuting left-hander Zach Phillips after the leadoff batter in the fifth reached on an error.
"He had good stuff, and got around where we wanted to get him, close to 80 [pitches]," manager Buck Showalter said. ... So he's right where he needs to be. That's good. He's carrying a good solid fastball, and all his pitches."
Tillman was hurt in his second inning by what Showalter believed to be a small strike zone. Showalter said the umpire missed five or six strikes on Tillman in a second inning in which he walked two and saw both score on a two-out home run.
"That time of year with the umpires, too," Showalter said. "You guys were probably watching on TV, too. Those are strikes."
Tillman didn't blame the umpires, but hinted that he disagreed with some calls.
"It's not my job to calls balls and strikes," Tillman said with a knowing smile when asked about the strike zone. "I'm going out there throwing strikes and doing what I can to get these guys out. I thought I made some pretty good pitches."
Tillman likely has one start remaining in spring training, though the team will likely juggle its starters by Sunday to get everyone lined up for Opening Day and the ensuing week. Tillman threw a spring-high 78 pitches and hopes to build on that in his last start.
At the very least, he's shown his early spring hip flexor strain is healthy.
"Like I said at the time, as long as he didn't have another setback, he's going to be right on schedule," Showalter said. "So he presents some options for us."
Around the horn: Right-hander Kevin Gausman said Thursday that he hoped to be able to play catch Friday, but he instead had treatment on his right shoulder and did not throw. Gausman had a cortisone shot to treat his right shoulder tendinitis Sunday, putting the beginning of his season in jeopardy. … Matusz had a bullpen session Friday and will pitch again in a game Sunday. He had a cortisone shot to clear up his back soreness after appearing in Sunday's game. … Showalter spoke with Wieters Friday about when he might catch again, but will revisit it Saturday. Wieters went 1-for-6 from the left side, and 1-for-4 with two walks from the right side. … Reliever Chaz Roe will rejoin the team Saturday after the birth of his second daughter.