SARASOTA, Fla. – The Orioles will set their starting rotation on Sunday, and it will be a major surprise if anyone other than Chris Tillman is their Opening Day starter.
Tillman pitched in his third official Grapefruit League game on Friday, and though the results were statistically satisfying for him, he was perfectly content with how he threw.
He allowed five runs on six hits in four innings and left after J.J. Hardy made an error to begin the fifth in the Orioles’ 11-10 win over the New York Yankees in 10 innings before 8,350 at Ed Smith Stadium.
Tillman missed his first scheduled start due to a strained hip, and pitched in a “B” game. He’s given up 10 runs on 16 hits in 9 2/3 innings.
“He’s right where he needs to be. He’s carrying a good, solid fastball,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Tillman will presumably pitch one final time in Florida, next Wednesday against Detroit before starting on Opening Day against Minnesota on Apr. 4.
“It was good. I made my pitches throughout. I made a lot of really good pitches with all of them. I was pretty happy with it,” Tillman said.
Tillman struck out four and walked three, though home plate Clint Fagan’s strike zone may have been conservative.
“There were five or six strikes that were called balls. That time of year with umpires, too,” Showalter said.
The Orioles hit five home runs and Chris Denorfia’s three-run homer off Tillman in the second was their big blow.
“Balls flying all over the park today. Anything in the air,” Showalter said. “It’s one of those days. You get a few strikes called, and in a night game, it’s probably 3-2.”
Tillman didn’t think the conditions affected him.
“I didn’t think there were very many bad pitches. There were a lot of good pitches. They made good contact, I think twice all day, so I wasn’t unhappy with it by any means,” Tillman said.
He refused an opportunity to criticize Fagan, too.
“It’s not my job to calls balls and strikes. I’m going out there throwing strikes and doing what I can to get these guys out. I thought I made some pretty good pitches,” Tillman said.
He’ll be happy with the same kind of run support during the season.
Mark Trumbo hit his fifth home run of the spring. Caleb Joseph and Hardy had two-run shots. It was Joseph’s first and Hardy’s second in as many days.
“We’ve been talking about this for a while now. It’s fun to watch these guys go up and hit the ball around the park. It’s like one through nine right now and it’s fun to watch,” Tillman said.
Those were hit off New York starter Ivan Nova, who’s grappling with the fading CC Sabathia for the final Yankees rotation spot.
Manny Machado hit a home run in the seventh to tie the score at 7 and Nolan Reimold tied it at 9 in the ninth.
Reimold had two hits. In an uninspiring spring, they were most welcome.
“He needed it. He’s been scuffling. Go home to feel good about his swing. When he’s good, he’s real good. When he’s not in one of those periods, it’s a challenge,” Showalter said.
Minor leaguer Stefan Crichton allowed two runs to the Yankees in the 10th, and the Orioles scored three runs in the bottom of the 10th for the win.
Garabez Rosa, who’s regularly imported from minor league camp, hit a two-run single for the win. Rosa is 6-for-8 (.750) this spring.
Showalter said that Zach Phillips, who relieved Tillman with a runner on in the fifth and quickly got out of the inning, may pitch every other day for the rest of spring training.
There was a scary moment in the eighth inning when third baseman Steve Tolleson collided with catcher Francisco Pena in the eighth inning.
“It was a pop fly in no man’s land and we were both going after it, and I’m sure we were both calling it,” Tolleson said. “I had my arms up and had my breath knocked out of me. I tightened up a little bit. I’m sure I’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”
NOTES: Brian Matusz, who had a cortisone shot on Sunday, threw a side session and is scheduled to pitch on Sunday. … Matt Wieters got 11 at-bats in an intrasquad minor league game. The Orioles may decide on Saturday when he’ll catch in a major league game. … Kevin Gausman (shoulder) got treatment, but did not throw. …Outfielder Felix Perez, who signed a minor league contract earlier this month, has requested his release to pursue an opportunity in Japan. …Yovani Gallardo pitches for the Orioles on Saturday against the Boston Red Sox. …The Orioles recorded their ninth sellout of the spring.
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