Tillman not satisfied
Chris Tillman took some flak for saying after Wednesday’s disastrous outing that he thought he had good stuff and was “a few pitches away”. So give the 23-year-old credit for being not OK on Monday: both with the way he pitched and with the team’s final outcome.
“I wouldn’t say I’m pleased,” Tillman said of the 96-pitch outing. “I felt OK about it. It was OK. It wasn’t good enough. It’s definitely a work in progress here.”
During the Orioles’ current skid, they have faced three teams that rank in the top five in the American League in runs scored. The Twins –playing without Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau — entered Monday’s contest ranked dead last in that category.
Tillman –coming off one of the worst outings of his career – wasn’t going to bask in a 6 2/3 innings three-run start. He expected to pitch better on Monday, a sign –hopefully — of better things to come.
“Tilly’s been working on some things and it got away from him a little bit there in the second inning,” manager Buck Showalter said. “[Pitching coach Mark Connor] reminded him and got him back a little bit on line with some adjustments. He fights himself sometimes…He got it together and gave us some innings and gave us a chance to win a ballgame.”
Tillman allowed nine hits and six earned runs in Wednesday’s loss to the Yankees. He didn’t make it out of the second inning in that start, prompting questions regarding his status in the team’s rotation. He was in dire need of a quality start and he got one on Monday, although there are still things –his velocity, his cutter – that Tilman acknowledged need to improve.
“It got me in trouble twice tonight,” Tillman said of his cutter. “That’s been the pitch I’ve been going to late last season and in spring training, and of a sudden it’s not there for me. That’s one thing I’ve got to get back to.”
Tillman gave up a two-run double to Drew Butera in the second and allowed another run in the fourth but was able to right himself and keep the Orioles in the game.
Following Michael Cuddyer’s RBI double, Tillman retired 11 batters in a row before shortstop Robert Andino’s errant throw awarded No. 9 batter Alexi Casilla second base. That ended Tillman’s outing in favor of lefty Clay Rapada.
Tillman’s 6 2/3 innings were a season-high and he tied a season high with five strikeouts. He also didn’t issue a walk. When asked if his velocity –which still sits in the mid to upper 80s — is a concern, Tillman said he’s working on it but it’s not something he’s alarmed about.
The sense is if Tillman can get back on track with his location and movement getting back to more of a steady low 90s on the radar gun will come easier than if the just pound it in his head now that he has to throw harder regardless of where it goes. Velocity isn’t everything, but it is something Tillman needs to improve on, along with several other things.
“Like I said, I was OK with it,” Tillman said of his outing. “It’s frustrating right now. Nothing is really going our way. We’re all kind of frustrated. We’ve got to keep plugging way. It’s a work in progress.”