Myriad O's Thoughts: Tillman's start; Sisco's police work; Mancini's knee injury - BaltimoreBaseball.com
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Myriad O’s Thoughts: Tillman’s start; Sisco’s police work; Mancini’s knee injury

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Chris Tillman made his fourth start of the 2018 season Saturday night and, like, the previous three, command issues ultimately hurt him.

Tillman threw a season-high six innings in the Orioles’ 4-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians. He walked his season-low (one) and struck out his season high (five) while lowering his ERA from 11.91 to 9.87 in one game.

Statistically, Saturday was Tillman’s best start since July 17, his first outing of last year’s second half.

But four specific pitches had a direct impact on his outcome Saturday, turning what would have been a strong performance into one where positives had to be siphoned.

It didn’t take long for Tillman to be burned by control lapses.

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After walking Jason Kipnis and giving up a single to Jose Ramirez in the first, Tillman threw a wild pitch – which advanced the runners 90 feet.

Cleveland scored on the next-at bat: an RBI groundout by Michael Brantley. It’s the third time in four 2018 starts that Tillman has allowed a run in the first inning.

He gave up a solo home run to Yan Gomes in the fourth – an inning after he retired the side in order — but it’s what happened in the sixth inning that again spotlighted Tillman’s lack of command.

Twice, Tillman fell behind hitters, 3-1. And twice Cleveland made him pay, with Ramirez and Yonder Alonso homering two batters apart. Ramirez hit the ball into the right field flag court while Alonso’s home run landed onto Eutaw Street on the fly – marking the first time that has happened this season.

“If I make better pitches, we’re talking about a whole different deal here, I think, and most starts, to be honest,” Tillman said. “I’ve got to make better pitches. Get ahead. I fell behind both those guys in my last inning, so stay ahead and make my pitches.”

Each solo shot was off Tillman’s four-seam fastball, clocking in between 86-88 mph, according to MLB Gameday. He threw 83 pitches, 51 strikes.

Afterward, Orioles manager Buck Showalter offered a glass-half-full outlook on his former top starter.

“He was better,” Showalter said. “There were a couple pitches he’d probably like to have back. … (He) has had a long period of success and a period (that’s) not like he’s capable of or has done in the past. So, you’re looking for anything. I’d like to say it’s a process. There will be another challenge around the corner. But I thought he presented himself better than he has his other outings.”

Showalter said the game came down to Baltimore’s offense and the opposing pitcher, right-hander Mike Clevinger.

Clevinger tossed nine shutout innings, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out three. Manny Machado and Chance Sisco had the lone hits.

This game, though, was unquestionably a “Chris Tillman Watch.”

After three rough starts this year and an abysmal 2017 in which he posted a 7.84 ERA in 24 games, the fair question was what happens if Tillman crumbled again Saturday.

And he was better. There were positives. But spotty command in key moments made the results not quite good enough.

Sisco nabs three would-be basestealers

Chance Sisco and Caleb Joseph have split time behind the plate this season.

With Joseph struggling offensively, Sisco has been getting increasing opportunities. Saturday night, he took advantage.

In his 10th start behind the plate, Sisco caught three Cleveland baserunners attempting to steal, earning the catcher hat-trick. He’s now 7-for-11 in thwarting stolen base attempts in 2018.

“That was fun to watch,” Showalter said. “He and (bench coach John Russell) have worked real hard at it. Keep in mind, this guy was a lot more shortstop than he was catcher coming out of high school, so he’s come a long way. I know he should take a lot of pride in it.”

The first attempt occurred after Ramirez’s home run in the sixth. Brantley reached on a single and was caught stealing during Edwin Encarnacion’s at-bat. That was a big play as Alonso slugged the inning’s second home run after Encarnacion struck out looking.

An inning later, Sisco threw out Lindor, which ended the seventh.

The Orioles 2013 2nd round selection capped it off in the ninth, gunning down Rajai Davis, who attempted to steal third.

“You get a young catcher like that and they’re going to test him,” Showalter added. “You can see they’re going to keep pushing. They’ll do it again (Sunday). Hopefully, he’ll keep throwing them out if he’s playing.”

Gentry leads off while Mancini is sidelined

Outfielder Craig Gentry became the Orioles’ fourth leadoff hitter of the season Saturday.

The change was necessitated after Trey Mancini suffered a knee injury Friday while attempting to make a sliding catch in foul territory.

An MRI showed no structural damage, but there’s no specific timeline for Mancini’s return. The hope is he won’t need a disabled-list stint.

“I think we’ll know a lot more in 24 hours,” Showalter said Saturday night. “It’s a short turnaround from (Friday). … I’m hoping the next day or two he’s moved toward getting back in the lineup. … He’s pretty sore.”

Mancini was in the leadoff spot for 14 consecutive games and started all 20 of the Orioles’ contests before Saturday.

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Eldersburg Enigma

    April 22, 2018 at 7:36 am

    Telling that Mancini had played in all 20 games before last night. The bench still stinks, and Buck still plans to run these guys into the ground.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 22, 2018 at 12:12 pm

      Even if he had a great bench I’m not convinced he’d use it a ton.

  2. Orial

    April 22, 2018 at 9:12 am

    Other than Mancini and Manny the lineup is abysmal. There are no reinforcements on the way(and that includes Trumbo,Hays). So I guess we’ll ride it out and hope for the best. Ok now I’m depressed.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 22, 2018 at 12:13 pm

      I’m not sure how you can’t call Trumbo — and Schoop — reinforcements. If Trumbo by Another name were currently on the waiver wire every Orioles fan in the world would be clamoring for him. He is absolutely a reinforcement.

  3. Boog Robinson Robinson

    April 22, 2018 at 11:06 am

    I’m thinking this team is going to be a lot better than they’ve looked up to this point. There IS some talent in the lineup, and if yesterday’s game is any indication of progress for Tillman, the rotation has some promise. Let’s not forget that Cobb really hasn’t had a chance to get tuned up and we can certainly expect better results from him and Gausman.

    One thing about this team … you know that the bats will eventually come alive. Let’s just hope it’s not too late. Buck up campers, it’s a long season.

    • Bancells Moustache

      April 22, 2018 at 11:51 am

      Sorry Boog, but when you are pitching for your professional life as Tillman was yesterday, 3 home runs and a costly wild pitch ain’t gonna cut it. They gotta do something else with Tillman. They had some nice momentum, coming off a fairly impressive win Friday night, and then they stick the soft toss machine on the hill Saturday? Can’t keep doing it.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 22, 2018 at 12:14 pm

      I hear you both. Tillman was fine overall. But again that still wasn’t good enough.

  4. Bancells Moustache

    April 22, 2018 at 11:41 am

    Last 2 games the temperature has been warmer and the strikeouts have dropped dramatically. Is there a correlation? I certainly think so. The Orioles hitters and place of birth goes like this;

    Mancini-Florida
    Machado-Florida
    Jones- Southern California
    Davis- Texas
    Beckham- Georgia
    Sisco/Joseph- SoCal/Tennessee
    Schoop-Curacao
    Gentry- Arkansas
    Santander- Venezuela
    Rasmus- Alabama
    Sardinas- Venezuela

    The only one on that list who even knows what winter is would be Joseph, and Tennessee isn’t exactly Wisconsin. Perhaps when these guys get comfortable the sticks will come alive? I’m reaching here, I know, but optimism is in short supply round these parts.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 22, 2018 at 12:15 pm

      Certainly not the No. 1 reason. But a contributing factor? Potentially.

    • Mau

      April 22, 2018 at 2:15 pm

      You should camp at Clingmans Dome in Tennessee in the winter time and get back to us about how comfortable the temps were. I would argue that Georgia, Arkansas and Texas all have winter also in the northern climes of each. I’m a Floridian. It’s friggin cold everywhere north of Gainesville in the winter months to me. I went to cold weather training at Camp Ripley, Minnesota in the 80’s while in the 82d Abn Div. That was ridiculous. More ridiculous was the fact that I was given a choice between jungle training in Panama or cold weather training in Minnesota at that time and chose the latter. I figured I knew what extreme heat feels like so I went to feel extreme cold. One night it reached -30 without wind chill and -60 with wind chill. I will never do that again I can assure you. Makes a Baltimore spring, even the bad ones, feel tropical.

      • Bancells Moustache

        April 22, 2018 at 7:35 pm

        I’ll not argue, as I too spent some time in the 82D (B Co 2-504th) and also worked a bit at Fort Campbell KY/TN, which is how I know Tennessee can have nasty winters, as can Georgia (3 years at Fort Benning as an Airborne instructor) BUT spring still comes sooner down south. Yes, January can be brutal but by baseball season it gets fairly comfortable, which brings me back to my point; these guys can’t hit when they are uncomfortable. No shame in it, most people react the same way.

        • Mau

          April 23, 2018 at 8:41 pm

          Airborne, my brother. I’ll not argue either. LOL. You’re always spot on.

  5. jkneps63

    April 22, 2018 at 8:03 pm

    Yeah for Cisco, he seems to be a great student under a super coach regarding his defensive skills, 7 out of 11, way to go!

    Sad to see Mancini get hurt, hopefully he will be back soon, but not before he is ready. I would hate to see him come back too soon and then miss a bunch of time.

    Tillman was better but I anticipate the decent performance might be a one off unfortunately. Tanner Scott’s two innings with only one hit and 0 BB was very encouraging.

    Goodness gracious Manny Machado! 14th in OBP and 4th in OPS! 8 dingers and 12 walks already…if the Os trade him, his current stats should up the return; if the Os keep him, they should try to sign him to one-year deal laden with incentives if possible…he has been lights out in his contract year.

    • Jbigle1

      April 22, 2018 at 8:53 pm

      What kind of incentives does machado have to sign a one year incentive laden deal? He’s looking at 300 million on a potential WS contender. There’s a better chance Chris Tillman wins the cy young next year.

      • jkneps63

        April 23, 2018 at 11:10 am

        I was trying to imply that Manny and most other players perform their best when in a contract season – I am Captain Obvious. So keep Manny always in a contract year! If Manny signs a long-term deal, I would predict his performance takes a noticeable nosedive next year. IMO it would great if there was something like a salary calculator based upon performance and applied across the entire MLB – then we might see some consistently great baseball all year long. I know the players would probably not like such a system as there would be no guarantees. I remain an idealistic, practically and real-life keep getting in the way!

    • Dan Connolly

      April 23, 2018 at 8:39 am

      Yeah, this offseason will be about long-term security for Machado. It’s rare when a star player reaches free agency at 26. He’ll take full advantage of that rarity.

  6. Jbigle1

    April 22, 2018 at 11:33 pm

    Off topic for this piece. Any idea when Lowther gets a promotion to Frederick? He’s on the older side for low A anyway being a college pitcher and we’ve seen him absolutely dominate. I’d really like to see him against the next level of competition because lord knows we will always need starters.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 23, 2018 at 8:43 am

      Usually the shifts in minor league rosters come around the affiliates’ all-star breaks, especially for those lower levels. That could change however if an opening arises above and there is a domino effect. Say O’s need a starter for several weeks, they take one from Norfolk. And that guy is replaced by someone from Bowie who is replaced by a guy from Frederick, etc

      • Jbigle1

        April 23, 2018 at 7:16 pm

        Hopefully Tillman getting axed from the rotation is the start of those dominoes. Let’s see what Hess has.

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