I guess it didn’t really hurt the Baltimore Orioles that Matt Wieters stayed with his wife and new son (Maverick) tonight while they took on the Boston Red Sox after all. Chris Tillman one-hit the Red Sox, giving up just one run off of a sacrifice fly from Dustin Pedroia in the first inning, in what ended up being eight innings of pure, unadulterated dominance of a Red Sox team that can’t even get a revenge win right these days.
Tillman pitched his eight innings, his longest outing since July 4 against the Seattle Mariners, and the only run he gave up was actually unearned. Is anyone else thinking that Tillman may have possibly earned himself the opportunity to start game one of whatever playoff series/game the Orioles play once the regular season ends?
He is now 9-2 with a 2.78 ERA in 14 starts and 81 innings of work this season – hard to fathom how much hard work Tillman has put into becoming one of the best starting pitchers on the Orioles staff, but he has put in the work and he’s now no longer considered among Orioles fans to be another floundering pitching prospect that the organization failed to develop.
What might be even more confounding is the fact that Ryan Flaherty, yes the Rule 5 pick, hit his first career grand slam in the bottom of the first inning. It wasn’t so long ago that fans wanted the organization to just give Flaherty back to the Chicago Cubs because he was not hitting at all and the thought was that we could use the extra bench spot he was taking up.
He was batting a lowly .213 with .242 on-base-percentage during the first half and surely there was a better option somewhere, anywhere out there. However, things have been vastly different for him during the second half as he’s finally figured out how to hit in the big leagues and has a .271 batting average and a .359 on-base-percentage to show for it. Looks like manager Buck Showalter and general manager Dan Duquette know how to show off their rather impressive scouting skills after all.
With tonight’s 9-1 victory over the Red Sox tonight the Orioles continue to keep pace with the New York Yankees in the AL East as well as staying ahead of the other wild-card contenders at the same time. Six games are all that remains of the regular season for the Birds and the AL East division title is still well within their grasps.
The real question is who blinks first, the Yankees or the Orioles?