Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Tyler Wilson delivers to the Boston Red Sox in the first inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park on Thursday, June 16, 2016, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Tyler Wilson delivers to the Boston Red Sox in the first inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park on Thursday, June 16, 2016, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) (Elise Amendola / AP)

In a time of upheaval for the Orioles rotation, the growing pains of right-hander Tyler Wilson went largely unnoticed. His peers' struggles were of the spectacular variety, so Wilson's just-good-enough performances sufficed.
 
On Thursday, his performance was quite good enough.
 
Wilson delivered his best start of the season, and the best of his young major league career. It was good enough to provide cover to a rotation under fire, rest for a bullpen that's been overused, and plenty of cushion for the awakened Orioles offense in a 5-1 win over the Boston Red Sox.
 
Wilson pitched a career-high eight shutout innings Thursday at Fenway Park, scattering three hits while striking out six and walking one.
 
"Tyler's a guy, you give him enough opportunities and he's going to show you why he's been a winning pitcher everywhere he's been in his life," manager Buck Showalter said.
 
Before the game, Showalter said Wilson was "looking at today as the start of something real good."
 
He sheepishly said after the game that that was just something you say about every pitcher, just to put it out there in the universe. Wilson's ensuing start was certainly a step in the right direction.
 
His ERA fell from 4.73 to 4.16. When you remove his nine innings of relief, Wilson's ERA as a starter dipped from 5.29 to 4.58.

Fulfilling Showalter's Hail Mary prophecy meant stemming a slow slide for the 26-year-old right-hander, who allowed five earned runs in each of his last two starts. The Red Sox didn't even manage that many hits off Wilson on Thursday.
 
"I go out there with the goal to try and give our team a chance to win every time," Wilson said. "I haven't done a great job of that the last couple of times out."
 
Even when he had struggled, he recognized it was simply his mistakes being punished and vowed to improve on them. His rotation spot never seemed to be in jeopardy, unlike those of fellow rookie Mike Wright or veteran Ubaldo Jimenez.
 
Recently, his own issues stemmed from commanding his secondary pitches, he said. That was different as he was able to go after Boston on Thursday.
 
"I felt like I did a good job of throwing my off-speed stuff for strikes, which I haven't done early in games the last couple times, which didn't really give me a chance to get guys of the fastball — especially the last couple of starts," Wilson said. "If they're going to key-hole you to a pitch and you can't throw the other ones for strikes or command them the way that you need to from the first inning on, ballclubs in the AL East are going to make you pay for that."
 
That bill didn't come due for him this time. Wilson avoided pitches that could get in the air and become troublesome with the Green Monster so close in left field, instead executing in places that allowed center fielder Adam Jones and right fielder Joey Rickard to chase them down.
 
His perpetual plan to attack the strike zone was made easier by the fact that the Orioles' position coaches had their defenders lined up in the right places, and they made some spectacular plays on top of that.
 
A consummate teammate, Wilson never shies away from crediting his defense. He was effusive Thursday.
 
He will be the first to defer credit to his fielders, and did so several times from the center of the infield during the game. It started with the first batter he saw, when Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts had a diving line drive intercepted by a sliding Nolan Reimold in left field.
 
"Oh man — that was a highlight reel," Wilson said. "Those guys played awesome. They play awesome all year long, but when they can put a few plays in succession, it really kind of sparkles a little bit. …
 
"Nolan made a great play to start the game and really set the tone. There were plays all around. It really emphasizes for me to go out and attack hitters, pitch to contact and let those guys play behind me."
 
Twice, Rickard took extra bases away from Red Sox third baseman Travis Shaw by running down line drives. Third baseman Paul Janish and first baseman Chris Davis stole likely doubles down their respective foul lines, too.
 
The contact against Wilson was often hard. Showalter counted eight or nine hit on the screws. Boston only managed to get someone on base against Wilson in three of his eight innings.
 
In the third inning, he worked around a single down the right-field line by catcher Sandy Leon and a walk to Betts to get second baseman Dustin Pedroia to foul out and end the inning with no damage.
 
Designated hitter David Ortiz was stranded at third base after a one-out, seventh-inning double, and Shaw managed to finally have a hit fall in the eighth inning. Boston left him at first base, with the other three batters Wilson faced striking out in that inning.
 
Those three eighth-inning strikeouts gave him a career-high six, and his 100 pitches thrown were the most he's thrown in the majors. Wilson admitted to wanting to come out and pitch the ninth inning — who doesn't? — but understood the decision to lift him for Brad Brach.
 
"You try as often as you can to leave on a good note," Showalter said. That good note left Wilson being heaped with praise from his teammates.
 
"Today's about him," center fielder Adam Jones, who drove in three of the Orioles' five runs, said. "He went out there and in a rubber match of this game, a big series win and threw eight innings, eight strong innings."
 
eencina@baltsun.com

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