You won't hear Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman saying there's a little extra in his tank when he faces the Seattle Mariners, who traded him to Baltimore before the 2008 season. Still, his dominance of his former organization always forces the question.
"We just seem to swing the bats well every time I pitch against these guys," Tillman said after the Orioles' 5-2 win Wednesday night, his latest dissection of the Mariners. "A big defense night for us tonight, too. ... We took some really good swings off a really good pitcher, so that's good to see."
Mariners fans have already seen Adam Jones, part of the trade with the Orioles that netted Tillman, become one of the game's top players. And now they're seeing Tillman reach a new level. Combine that with the fact another trade haul from Seattle, designated hitter Mark Trumbo, hit his team-high 12th homer Wednesday, and the Mariners might never want to take the Orioles' calls again.
Tillman remained undefeated against his former team, improving to 7-0 with a 2.96 ERA against the Mariners.
In holding the Mariners to two runs over 61/3 innings, Tillman recorded his sixth straight quality start. Over that span, Tillman has a 1.83 ERA.
"I think that's our goal every time we get out there," Tillman said. "A quality start is big. Most of the time it means you're getting deep in the game and giving your team the chance to win, and I think that's the most important part because we're all saving the bullpen."
Four of Tillman's six strikeouts came in the first three innings and his six strikeouts on the night marked his fifth straight start with six or more. Over that span, he has 38 strikeouts in 331/3 innings.
Tillman said he was able to mix all of his pitches effectively, relying on his fastball early before mixing in his off-speed pitches.
"He threw the ball well," catcher Matt Wieters said. "It's a good lineup out there, and Tilly's real comfortable with the weapons he has right now to defend himself."
Tillman allowed four hits on the night, and just one — Chris Iannetta's leadoff double in the seventh — over the last 13 batters he faced.
He allowed a homer to center fielder Leonys Martin to open the third inning. The Mariners' only other run came on Iannetta's sacrifice fly in the fourth inning, which drove in former Oriole Nelson Cruz, who led off with a double and moved to third on a groundout.
Tillman, who has allowed two runs or fewer in seven of his nine starts, is 6-1 with a 2.61 ERA this season.
For the seventh time this season, the Orioles homered in consecutive at-bats, giving the Orioles a 2-0 second-inning lead. Trumbo hit his 12th home run of the season to left field, and then Wieters' third of the season landed on the flag court. It was the fourth time in the past nine games the Orioles hit back-to-back homers. They did it in three consecutive games May 8 against the Oakland Athletics and May 10 and 11 at Minnesota.
Jones robs Cano
Orioles manager Buck Showalter has lauded Jones' defense in center field. On Wednesday, Jones made a spectacular running grab on Robinson Cano's drive to center. Jones, who was playing shallow, caught the ball on the warning track just before crashing into the fence in front of the Orioles bullpen.
Britton gets extended save
With the Orioles short on left-handed relievers, Showalter went to closer Zach Britton early and he converted a five-out save for his 11th save of the season. After retiring the two batters he faced in the eighth, Britton overcame a leadoff double by Ketel Marte in the ninth. Marte moved to third on a wild pitch with no outs, but Britton struck out Martin and induced groundouts from Nori Aoki and Franklin Gutierrez to end the game. It was Britton's first five-out save since Aug. 10 at Seattle.
In the first inning, Mariners center fielder Martin robbed Jones of extra bases on a leaping grab at the fence. Two innings later, he halved the Orioles' lead with his sixth home run of the season. However, he wasn't able to track down a deep fly from Wieters in the fourth inning, mistiming his jump against the center field fence, a hit thatgave the Orioles' a 3-2 lead.
Kim coming down
The leadoff walk that left fielder Hyun Soo Kim drew in the fourth inning led to a run that gave the Orioles a 4-2 lead. After Kim walked on seven pitches, he move to second on a throwing error by pitcher Taijuan Walker, went to third on a soft grounder in front of the plate and then scored on a wild pitch. Kim has reached safely in seven of his eight major league starts.