ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. — Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman felt Sunday's outing at the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field was an improvement over the ones that preceded it, even if a three-run home run in the fifth inning by Evan Longoria hastened the end of his day.
"Better," Tillman said. "Command was better with the fastball. It's a start."
"Tilly was better today," manager Buck Showalter said. "I thought his tempo and rhythm was a lot better. … Chris had some good sequences. It got away from him there a little bit in the fifth."
Longoria's three-run home run was the lone major piece of damage for Tillman, but left him having allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits with two walks and five strikeouts in a no-decision. His ERA remains at 8.39.
That 10 of the 22 batters he faced reached base is a concern, but Showalter liked what he saw when those situations occurred. Before the game, he relayed a conversation he'd had with Tillman about the lack of confidence his body language was presenting on the mound.
"I know, as a hitter, what it means to us when we see you fidgeting around, stepping off, shaking off," Showalter said Sunday morning. "It presents a guy that's not confident, and is really kind of worried about things. Guys at this level — there's such a small separator — feed off that."
Showalter found no such problem with what Tillman did when he ended up getting into trouble, though once Longoria hit his home run and Logan Morrison lined out sharply to follow, Tillman's day was done.
"I thought he did fine. I told him right after the game, I said, 'Look, I don't know about you but I'm getting a little tired of getting beat by little singles here and there. Of course, he leaves a changeup up to Longoria — that's really the only ball that got hit really hard. He's really close. I think he's really close. I know the pitch limit and the innings isn't encouraging, but I thought his stuff was really good."
O'Day hits milestones: Reliever Darren O'Day hit a pair of career milestones Sunday in a moment of symmetry.
O'Day relieved left-hander Richard Bleier with a man on first base and nobody out in the seventh inning, and struck out the first batter he faced, right fielder Steven Souza Jr.
The whiff was his 500th career strikeout, and when the inning finished shortly thereafter with a double play ball, O'Day had pitched 500 career major league innings as well.
The veteran right-hander has two scoreless innings on his record since returning Friday from a shoulder problem, lowering his ERA this season to 3.55.