BALTIMORE – For the moment, the Orioles are defying the predictions of those who forecast a dire season. The Orioles ran their record to 4-0, one short of the fastest start in team history thanks to four home runs.
The 6-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays before 17,304 chilly fans at Oriole Park on Friday night came over the acclaimed Chris Archer.
The Orioles are undefeated after four games for the first time since 2011, one short of the 1970 team record according to STATS when they started their championship season with five consecutive wins.
Archer allowed the four homers, a career high, and three of them were hit in the fifth inning.
“There’s no beating around the bush about this lineup. We have, I think, eight of the nine guys who can hit 20 homers – and have done it in the past,” Manny Machado said. “We are going to hit the ball, hopefully when the weather starts getting a little warmer, the ball starts flying a little more.”
Jonathan Schoop began the fifth with a home run into the Orioles bullpen, and with two outs, Nolan Reimold hit one to right-center. Machado followed with a long homer to left. It was the first home run of the season for both Schoop and Reimold and Machado’s second.
Chris Davis hit his second to center field to lead off the second.
Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash inexplicably left Archer in the game after the three home runs, and he walked Davis before Mark Trumbo and Matt Wieters singled. Wieters’ single was lined off Archer (0-2), and Trumbo came up with the Orioles’ sixth run.
“We made him work to be able to get some balls in the middle of the zone. His stuff is great, so you've got to get some balls in the middle of the plate. We have some hitters who aren't going to miss them when they get them,” Wieters said.
After Pedro Alvarez flied to center to end the fifth, Archer’s night was done.
Chris Tillman, who pitched two perfect innings in Monday’s opener, didn’t have his start truncated by rain. Instead, manager Buck Showalter allowed him to go five.
Tillman, who was pitching on fewer than four days rest for the first time, allowed a home run in the first to his old nemesis, Evan Longoria. It was the seventh home run Longoria hit against Tillman in 50 at-bats.
“I didn't think Chris was real sharp command wise for a lot of his outing. He’s capable of better. I thought Matt caught a good game, worked him through some situations. They are an early swinging club and you better bring your stuff early in the count or you’ll get hurt. Did it tonight with Longoria,” Showalter said.
Tampa Bay (2-3), had runners on second and third with two outs, but Tillman struck out Brad Miller to end the first.
Tillman (1-0) allowed a leadoff single to Steven Souza in the second, walked Logan Forsythe in the third, and then retired his final nine batters. He walked two and struck out five.
“It was OK. The command was a little off, especially early. It kind of got better right towards the end. I was able to command the fastball a little better as well as the changeup. There were some real good changeups late in the game that helped me get through it,” Tillman said.
He wasn’t affected by pitching on short rest.
“I felt good throughout. I felt like I had a lot more in the tank but be smart this time of year. Get you to real late in the season. Don't want to make any mistakes right now,” Tillman said.
He threw 83 pitches, and Showalter thought that was enough.
“I was worried about him being too strong,” Showalter said. “I know he was frustrated by not being able to get deeper in that first game. We really wanted to be careful with him.”
T.J. McFarland gave up a single to his first batter, Logan Morrison, in the sixth, then efficiently retired his last nine.
NOTES: Brian Matusz pitched a perfect seventh inning for Bowie in the second of his two scheduled rehab outings. He’s scheduled to be activated on Sunday. “It felt good to throw back-to-back days,” Matusz said. “It feels good to be healthy.”… Drew Smyly (0-1, 6.75) faces Mike Wright on Saturday night. … Alvarez has started his Orioles career without a hit in 12 at-bats. “Pete takes a lot of confidence in the confidence we have in him and his track record. So, there’s going to come a time when some guys in other places of the order aren’t swinging the bat well and he’s going to need to get it going. He’s close. He’s close,” Showalter said.
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