BALTIMORE – In Sunday’s first inning, Chris Tillman was quickly in trouble. He allowed three runs in the first inning, and only a fine throw home by Joey Rickard prevented a fourth.
What seemed to be a long day for the Orioles turned into a happy one instead as they hit a season high six home runs in their 11-3 win over the Oakland Athletics before 43,690 at Oriole Park.
The Orioles hit home runs in each of the first four innings to bail Tillman out.
Tillman toughened after the first inning, giving up just two hits in his last 5 1/3 innings.
“We kind of got back into that game. That picked me up huge,” Tillman said.
Manny Machado drove in a career high six runs with a two-run home run in the first and a grand slam in the eighth.
Machado hit his eighth home run of the year off Kendall Graveman (1-4) in the first to cut Oakland’s lead to 3-2.
Pedro Alvarez and Jonathan Schoop hit back-to-back home runs in the second. That gave the Orioles a 4-3 lead. It was the fourth time this season the Orioles have hit consecutive home runs.
Alvarez’s home run landed on Eutaw Street, the first time this season a ball has landed there.
“That was a big old boy home run,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Mark Trumbo hit his ninth home run of the season in the third, and Rickard’s third in the fourth gave the Orioles a 7-3 lead.
Machado’s grand slam was his second of the season and third of his career. He has nine homers this season.
“I think that’s kind of what we’ve talked about all along. We have power up and down the lineup, and I think Schoopy’s homer and Joey getting one out of here today, it’s just a nice showing for just about everybody,” Trumbo said.
Thirty games into the season, the Orioles (18-12) are in first place, but Showalter knows the remaining 132 games will be difficult.
“We don't panic when we get behind. I think it helps the pitchers, too. We're going to have some games where you have to win 1-0, 2-1. It's going to be a long, challenging season. We're in for a long ride together,” Showalter said.
Tillman (4-1) had a rough first inning. Billy Burns singled, and he hit Mark Canha. Josh Reddick’s RBI single scored Burns, and Danny Valencia’s Baltimore Chop scored Canha. Yonder Alonso droubled to left to bring home Reddick, but Rickard’s throw home via Machado at short gave nailed Valencia at the plate.
Oakland (14-18) led 3-0.
“That defense is pretty special, all the way around, throughout the whole game. They had a lot of hard hit balls off me that we made a lot of good plays on. Offensively, you know these guys are going to do that. They’re an impressive offense,” Tillman said.
For more than a month, attendance had been sparse. The weather was poor, and games were unpleasant to watch because of that. On Sunday, the weather was wonderful and the crowd was large.
“You couldn’t ask, with all the weather and all the stuff that we’ve played in through the season so far, you couldn’t have dialed up a more perfect day to play baseball,” Showalter said.
“You just really want to play a good game, an entertaining game that you win on a day like today, because you don’t get many opportunities where you’ve got a full house and the weather’s letter perfect after … It’s kind of a Baltimore coming out after the winter and the weather that we’ve had in April.”
The Orioles finished their 10-game homestand at 6-4. They scored runs in bunches early in it, had a scoring slump in the middle and finished strongly. They won games with home runs, and sometimes with just good pitching.
“The homers are not always going to be there. The other day bottom of the 10th, we won by a sac fly. As long as the pitchers give us a chance and we maintain as a team, doing the right thing, getting guys over, pitching well. Getting out of innings, helping out our pitching staff. I think things will turn out great,” Machado said.
NOTES: Schoop has an 11-game hitting streak. … Tyler Wilson (1-1, 3.04) faces Jose Berrios (1-1, 6.75) as the Orioles begin a three-game series in Minnesota against the Twins on Monday night. …. The Orioles “Mother’s Day Catch on the Field” raised more than $20,000 for the Orioles’ Charitable Foundation. … Reddick has hits in eight consecutive at-bats, tying an Oakland record. … The crowd was the second largest this season. … Athletics backup catcher Josh Phegley pitched and retired the final two batters in the eighth inning.