Two of the most explosive offensive lineups in baseball remained silent for five innings before Adam Jones hit his 200th career home run to break the scoreless tie and propel the Orioles to a 1-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Friday night at Camden Yards.
Jones, who struggled through the first month of the season, has been on a roll all week. His two hits Friday gave him nine in his past 18 at-bats and the home run was his third in the past four games.
His shot into the Orioles bullpen made a winner of right-hander Chris Tillman, who pitched seven scoreless innings and outdueled Tigers star Justin Verlander. Tillman gave up just five hits and struck out seven to improve his record to 5-1 and reduce his ERA to just 2.58.
Verlander went the distance for the Tigers, pitching eight innings and allowing just four hits to the O's, but there was that one pitch he would love to have back.
The Tigers had their best opportunities in the early innings. Tillman again struggled to get out of the first inning and had a runner in scoring position again in the second. But he again settled down and dominated, finishing with his fifth straight quality start. He has allowed just six earned runs in his last 33 innings.
“It's fun,” Tillman said. “Anytime you get to face a guy like [Verlander] having an outing like he did, it's fun to come out with a win. Every time we face him, he's tough. He's one of the best for a reason.”
The Orioles locked up at least a split of the four-game series, which continues Saturday night when Mike Wright takes the mound for the O's against Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez.
The Orioles (22-12) have won eight of their last 10 games and improved the best home record in the major leagues to 15-5. The Tigers (15-20) are reeling, the loss their 10th in the last 11 games.
Darren O'Day took over for Tillman and pitched a scoreless eighth inning and closer Zach Britton retired the slumping Tigers in order in the top of the ninth to record his 10th save in as many opportunities. He also moved into fifth place on the Orioles career save list with 83.
Jones downplayed the milestone but not the importance of winning a game the way the Orioles did.
“When you're playing for a lot, it's pretty cool,” Jones said. “I'm glad we got the win. Personal things are all cool and fine and dandy. If you go out there and play and perform every day, these things are going to happen.”
O'Day bobbles blast
Setup man O'Day is known for catching the home runs that get hit into the Orioles bullpen, but he apparently blinked on Jones' tie-breaking shot in the sixth inning. O'Day got under it, but the ball clanked off his hands. He's a golfer, so he probably already knows the Tin Cup truism: "Perfection is unattainable."
Wieters puts the arm on Tigers
Catcher Matt Wieters continues to show how strong his surgically repaired elbow has become. Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler tried to take advantage of a pitch that skipped away from Wieters in the third inning, but Wieters pounced on it, made a strong throw and Jonathan Schoop caught the ball with his glove simultaneously in contact with the runner. It was a close play and Tigers manager Brad Ausmus waited for word from the visitor's video replay monitor, but did not challenge the call.