It’s bizarre to think that a big league pitcher can give up six earned runs in fewer than six innings and still take a step forward.
Even the awful ERA suggests otherwise, going from 7.75 to 7.91 Monday.
But right-hander Chris Tillman did appear to be in a little better situation against the Seattle Mariners in the Orioles’ 7-6 win than he has in many of his outings this season.
OK, so I’m talking baby steps here.
Tillman still walked four – and all of those runners scored, including two inherited by Mychal Givens.
And Tillman still served up two homers, a solo shot to former teammate Danny Valencia and a three-run bomb by Ben Gamel, who had five RBIs.
So, yeah, it wasn’t good.
But Tillman allowed just three hits total. He was averaging 10 pitches an inning for his first three frames. He threw 88 for his outing, which lasted 5 1/3 innings.
And, afterward, Tillman said that he felt his command Monday represented an improvement from the rest of this lost season.
“We were just talking about it. I feel like it was as good as it has been all year,” Tillman said after the game. “I felt like I made a lot of pitches, made a lot of pitches I wanted to make. Other than two of the walks, I feel like command was better, contact wasn’t nearly as firm, a lot of soft contact, a lot of ground balls. That’s the goal.”
Tillman’s a realistic guy. He knows Monday’s outing isn’t going on his free-agent promotional video. He knows it’s not acceptable in itself. But it wasn’t the complete disaster the line suggests.
“It got to the point in the game where I was trying to stay out of the big inning and I kind of pitched myself into trouble,” he said. “I feel like command was much, much better tonight. It was better than last game. You know, it’s getting there slowly but surely.”
When you’re having a season like Tillman has had in 2017, when there are a few positives, it’s probably worth noting when things are even a tick improved. Orioles manager Buck Showalter did the same thing post-game.
“That’s a good lineup and there’s not many breathing spots. He elevated some balls, hung a slider to Gamel. Trying to contain guys like (Robinson) Cano and (Nelson) Cruz, you drop your guard against the rest of them. It’s a challenge,” Showalter said. “But there was some good, too.”
Driving from Virginia; mind’s on Texas
Lefty reliever Donnie Hart received the call every minor leaguer wants: Head up to Baltimore on Monday and re-join the Orioles. But instead of being focused on getting back to the major leagues during his four-hour drive from Norfolk, Va., the lefty from Texas was preoccupied with something weightier.
“I’ve been pretty distracted,” Hart said. “I spent most of the ride up here form Norfolk today on the phone. Matter of fact, I had to plug in my phone because it had almost gone dead.”
Hart grew up in Katy, Texas, about 30 miles west of Houston, which has been hit hard by Hurricane Harvey.
Hart said his home is on higher ground, so it seems to be OK for now, but, “you get that much rain in a short period of time, there is no high ground. So, the water is moving where my parents are at and they are staying dry for the most part.”
He said his parents’ home is serving as a way station for friends, family and pets who have been displaced.
“My parents’ house is full right now. We don’t even own dogs and they’ve got five or so dogs in the house,” Hart said. “Both sisters and their families are in the house right now. Just because of the amount of water they are taking in (in their homes).”
He said one of his friends in Texas has an airboat, so he was trying to get him in touch with others who may need his help.
It’s another one of those reminders that these guys are professional athletes, but they are also sons and husbands and fathers, and have lives outside of baseball. And sometimes those lives are shaken by situations beyond their control.
“It’s kind of scary down there right now. But I can thankfully say my family is safe for the most part,” said Hart, who picked up the win Monday, but could go back to Norfolk on Tuesday when Dylan Bundy comes off the bereavement list.
“You just kind of cross your fingers and hope everybody can get out and go somewhere and be safe for the night.”
Jones hits 250th homer – and 25th homer for seventh straight season
With a fifth-inning home run Monday, Orioles center fielder Adam Jones captured another personal milestone and some more Orioles’ history.
It was the 250th homer of this career and 247th as an Oriole (fifth most in club history).
In addition, he is now the only modern-day Oriole to have seven straight seasons of 25 or more homers, snapping a tie with Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., who had six straight from 1982 to 1987.
There probably should be an asterisk there, however.
Hall-of-Famer Eddie Murray had 25 or more homers in eight of nine seasons from 1977 to 1985. The only exception was in the strike-shortened 1981 season, when he was tied for the AL lead with 22, but the Orioles played only 105 games.
If there had been a full season in 1981, it’s not a stretch to think Murray would have hit three more homers and ended up with a total of nine consecutive seasons with 25 or more.
As it is, though, Jones owns the record.
He’s third in team history with 25 or more homers in seven total seasons. Murray did it 10 times for the Orioles and Ripken, eight.
Every time Jones reaches one of these marks, I basically write the same thing: This guy is one of the best players in franchise history It’s hard to argue otherwise.
“I’ve said many times, you couldn’t ask for a more consistent personality, a more consistent player,” Showalter said. “I know I appreciate him every day. I think he’s one of those guys that everybody does appreciate, because he does a lot of things other people can’t do.”