Chris Tillman had all of his pitches working in a complete game 4-0 shutout over the Kansas City Royals. It was the first complete game victory of this career and the first complete game for the Baltimore Orioles since Scott Feldman did it in early September of last season.
Tough his fastball did not have the same velocity that is often seen from Chris Tillman, his pitch placement was excellent, and he was able to mix curves and changes to keep the Royals off balance all evening.
An interesting point was made by Rick Dempsey before the game about Chris Tillman’s “12 to 6 curve.” Because it drops with such a vertical dimension, there is a challenge to find a sweet spot of depth within the strike zone. It does not move horizontally across the zone. Beyond that is the challenge also of getting into a working groove with the specific umpire to recognize the precision of the pitch rather than “giving up” early on calling it a strike. So, all together, this at times works to build his pitch counts.
No problems on this night with pitch counts for Tillman! The final total was 117. It was a well-pitched game throughout. Orioles fans could get used to seeing this … like the old days in the late 60s and early 70s when it happened night after night! But nah – ain’t gonna happen; it is a different era of the sport now.
The Orioles made the most of a few rare opportunities off Jeremy Gutrie to score three runs, finally to see Chris Davis launch a line-drive homer for the final margin of victory. The best thing for the offensive attack was to see Davis and Manny Machado timing pitches much better.
The Orioles are now 22-18 for the season through the opening 40 games, which essentially marks the first quarter of the season. This is a pace that translates to 89 wins on the season. Would that be enough to win the AL East in this strange year of injuries and slow starts? I would say it is better to win 95 or 96 games and not worry about the question!
The Orioles would indeed like to add another win toward that goal Saturday night with a 7:00 (Eastern Time) game. It will feature a pair of pitchers who are relatively unknown to the other side.
Bud Norris will be making his eighth start of the year for the Orioles. With a 2-3 record and 3.98 ERA, he is quietly having a decent start to his season. He has given up just 39 hits in 43 innings. Two of Norris’ three losses are against the Tigers. Take those away and he has an ERA of 2.70 in the other five games.
This will be the second time that Bud Norris has pitched against the Royals in his career. His only other start was on May 21st of last year while still with the Astros. He pitched six scoreless innings, giving up five hits – three of them being singles by Alex Gordon.
KC starter Danny Duffy has a record of 1-3 with a fine ERA of 1.96, though it is only for 18.1 innings pitched. He began the season for the Royals as a reliever and has only started the last two games, including most recently a one-run, two-hit, six-inning effort in a loss to Seattle.
Duffy was the losing pitcher to the Orioles in the 10th inning of a game this season back on April 26th. He hit Jonathan Schoop with a pitch to lead off the inning, following that with two throwing errors. After being replaced with the bases loaded, Nick Markakis singled to left field to win the game.
The one other occasion that Duffy has pitched against the Orioles was on May 24th of 2011 in what was the second start of his career. He pitched 5.1 innings that evening, giving up two runs on five hits and three walks. Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy had doubles in that game eventually won by the Orioles.