BOSTON -- Chris Tillman's nightmare start to 2018 continued on Friday night at Fenway Park as the red-hot Red Sox lineup got to him early and often, cruising to a 7-3 victory and putting another game between them and Baltimore in the American League East.The Orioles starter lasted only two
BOSTON -- Chris Tillman's nightmare start to 2018 continued on Friday night at Fenway Park as the red-hot Red Sox lineup got to him early and often, cruising to a 7-3 victory and putting another game between them and Baltimore in the American League East.
The Orioles starter lasted only two innings, plus three batters, before exiting after serving up six runs on eight hits, two walks and a hit batter.
"It's not good," Tillman said. "Physically, I felt good. Mechanically, I felt better. I just wasn't able to execute. I feel like I consistently fell behind and once you fall behind you're trying to get back into the count, then you're catching too much of the plate."
Tillman (0-3) has made three starts this season, allowing 15 earned runs, 22 hits and 10 walks over 11 1/3 innings.
"I got to get better, period," Tillman said. "I'm not happy with the way it's going. I just have to get better. It's not fair to the team. It's not fair to the bullpen. I have to pick these guys up, and it's got to happen now. I want to pitch better. I have to."
Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph didn't put the blame on Tillman's shoulders.
"I thought his stuff was good tonight, in terms of crispness, but he wasn't able to put the guys away or get a ground-ball double play when he needed it," Joseph said. "Stuff like that gets magnified when we're not doing much on offense."
His counterpart, Eduardo Rodriguez (1-0) was just the opposite, dazzling with his repertoire in his second start of the season.
After allowing one run in the top of the first inning, the Red Sox starter settled in, finishing his night with just one run allowed on five hits over six innings and struck out eight, including Chris Davis and Craig Gentry three times each, and Timothy Beckham twice, the O's 6-7-8 hitters.
"He got in a groove," Joseph, who went 1-for-4, said of Rodriguez. "He's done it to us before. Really using that back-door cutter this time, that was a nice pitch. It looks like he's been learning that from David [Price]. Didn't see as much of the changeup. We threatened, we made him bend, but we didn't make him break."
Boston's bats tuned up Tillman for four runs in the bottom half of the first, highlighted by an Eduardo Nunez three-run, two-out homer, his second of the season.
The Sox would add to their lead with a run in each of the next two innings, and the Orioles starter was lifted after allowing the first three batters to reach in the third inning.
"He could never find his stuff," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. "He came out a little crisper in the second inning, but he just couldn't get the ball where he needed to get it. He never really had a lot of things work in his favor. It was a struggle from the start."
Manny Machado smoked a two-out, two-run double to center field in the top of the seventh to bring the visitors within four runs, but it would not be nearly enough for the Orioles to overcome their early deficit.
Tillman earned his last win on May 7, 2017, in his first appearance of last season. He has since made 27 appearances and 21 starts without notching a victory, which includes 11 starts of fewer than five innings. The Orioles have gone 8-19 over the past two seasons in games that Tillman has pitched. The 21 starts between wins is a Baltimore record.
HE SAID IT
"Isn't it funny, these days in baseball we still have every club with tarps on the field. It's kind of crazy, isn't it?" -- Showalter, on Adam Jones' fourth-inning hit that landed between the tarp and the wall along the first-base line.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
In the top of the fourth inning the Orioles challenged a stadium boundary call on a ball hit by Jones that bounced between the tarp and first-base wall. Jones was thrown out at second base on the initial call. After a 2-minute, 39-second review, the replay official was unable to determine if the ball got lodged behind or under the canvas, and the original call was upheld.
"The ground rules are if the ball is sitting on the tarp then it's in play," Showalter said. "Obviously, it's not sitting on top of the tarp. I questioned them if Betts had thrown his hands up would they have given him a ground-rule double? Because the offense gets penalized, the guy goes in there and digs it out. Good play by him, he's got nothing to lose by going and getting it. Effort's never a problem with Adam. He saw the ball disappear and assumed it was out of play. ...That didn't beat us, obviously, but it's a ground-rule interpretation by New York."
Baltimore and Boston resume their four-game set at Fenway Park on Saturday with a 1:05 p.m. ET scheduled start. The Orioles and their fans are eager to see what free-agent pickup Alex Cobb can bring to the table in his first start since signing with the club near the end of March. The Red Sox counter with right-hander Hector Velazquez (1-0, 3.12 ERA).
Craig Forde is a contributor to MLB.com based in Boston.