Friday morning Orioles thoughts and observations on Tillman, Machado and Reynolds

The Orioles spent the off day Thursday in San Francisco and get back to work tonight against the Giants at AT&T; Park for their first trip there since 2010, when they lost two of three games and were outscored, 17-9, in the series.

The Orioles are 6-4 in games following an off day. You'd think that mark would be a little better.

The Orioles should send former Orioles left-hander Bruce Chen a fruit basket this morning. Thanks to Chen, who threw 7 2/3 shutout innings in the Royals’ 5-1 win over Boston, the Orioles picked up a half game on the Red Sox on the off day.

So the Orioles are 5 1/2 games back of American League East division-leading Boston, the exact same distance as they were this time last season heading into the 115thgame of the season. The Orioles (63-51) are actually three games better this season than they were at this point last year. But last season, the AL East wasn't as good as it is this year.

Right-hander Chris Tillman will start Friday’s series opener in San Francisco. He has one career start against the Giants, which came back in 2010, when he lasted just two innings and allowed six runs and six hits.

Of course, Tillman is a much different pitcher now. He has won 10 of his last 11 decisions since May 24 on his way to a 14-3 record. And he’s 7-1 with a 3.23 ERA on the road. In three second-half starts, Tillman is 3-0 and has held opponents to a .219 batting average, even despite allowing six earned runs in his last start a week ago against the Seattle Mariners at home.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of Orioles third baseman Manny Machado’s first major-league start. One year later, Machado has made every start since. In today’s Sun, we take a look at the past year.

It definitely seems like Machado’s been playing in the majors for more than a year. The Orioles instantly became a better team -- both defensively and offensively -- once Machado arrived.

Just ask shortstop J.J. Hardy:

“I don’t know what it would be like to play with someone else,” Hardy “We talk about the middle infield and how you need to know your second baseman and turning double plays and stuff like that. I think it’s just as important to know your third baseman. We’re both pretty familiar with everything we do and everything we can do. He knows where I’m at and I know where he’s at. If there’s a ball that routine to me but he could come get it, he’s not going to come flying across and to get it. It’s fun playing out there with him.”

After struggling offensively in July -- Machado hit just .193 in the month -- he seems to have regained his stroke in August. He’s hit safely in each of the Orioles’ six August games, including three multi-hit games. Machado now has 41 multi-hit games this season.

As a side note, the Cleveland Indians designated former Orioles first baseman and fan favorite Mark Reynolds for assignment Thursday. Reynolds started off the year well, hitting eight homers with 22 RBIs in the season’s first month, but he was hitting just .145 since the beginning of June and hadn’t hit a homer since June 28.

In the offseason, the Orioles believed they couldn’t afford to have Reynolds’ lofty strikeout numbers in their lineup among a batting order that already has its share of strikeouts.

And now that Reynolds is available, that philosophy doesn’t change. The Orioles have worked hard to develop internal options at the designated hitter position, so don’t expect them to make a run at Reynolds. And Chris Davis isn’t going anywhere from first base now, and Reynolds has struggled as a designated hitter.

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad