Tillman hits a bump after showing progress
TORONTO -- The Orioles thought Chris Tillman was turning the corner. The righty, who was tabbed to start on Sunday vs. the Blue Jays at Rogers Center so his rotation schedule wouldn't be interrupted, had won his previous three starts and -- like last year -- looked poised to shake off some early-season woes.
Instead, Tillman went a season-low 1 1/3 innings, watching a seven-run lead dissolve in Toronto, as the righty surrendered six runs -- including a pair of homers. The Orioles eventually weathered the Blue Jays' rally to win the series finale, 13-9.
"I'm falling behind -- and even the guys I get ahead [of], it's right back in their favor almost immediately," Tillman said. "I've got to do a better job of keeping me on the offensive, instead of defending against their swings."
In 14 starts this season, Tillman has a 6.22 ERA -- and his four shortest starts have come against Toronto. In four games versus the Jays, Tillman has a 15.00 ERA.
"You always learn from every start, more so when you struggle than when you do good," Tillman said. "Today was a big one. [I] definitely have to make an adjustment against these guys moving forward, they seem to see the ball well [off me] -- and [I've] just got to get better."
After a 1-2-3 first inning, Tillman gave up a leadoff double to Edwin Encarnacion and a one-out single to Russell Martin, before Ezequiel Carrera clobbered a pitch for his first homer of the year. The three-run shot was followed by Kevin Pillar's solo homer, which brought the score to 7-4.
"He's up. Pitch selection was fine, changeup up, out over the plate where you don't want to get it for the three-run homer [by Carrera] and it snowballed a bit," manager Buck Showalter said. "He's got to get back into attack mode. He's been pitching a lot better until today."
After Pillar's homer, Tillman gave up a single to No. 9 hitter Ryan Goins and Jose Reyes doubled to end the right-hander's afternoon after just 38 pitches. Reliever Tommy Hunter allowed a two-run single to Jose Bautista after that, with both runs charged to Tillman.
Showalter said Tillman could get an extra day of rest before his next start, with Monday's off-day and the return of both Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez. As for his confidence in the team's Opening Day starter moving forward, Showalter wasn't worried.
"I don't think I've ever been in a more confident situation with a group of pitchers and pitching coaches," Showalter said. "They will figure it out [with Tillman]. If it's 'figure out-able,' they will do that."