The Baltimore Orioles gave the ball to their ace, Chris Tillman, to try and snap a four-game losing streak against one of the best pitchers in baseball, Justin Verlander. While the Orioles did manage to beat the Detroit Tigers 3-1, the most important thing was Tillman establishing himself as a true ace.
Last year, Tillman had a breakout season, pitching to a 16-7 record with a 3.71 ERA and pitching more than 200 innings. The performance was good enough to earn him a spot on the 2013 All-Star team, but many people believed that Tillman’s success last season was a fluke. However, nobody will be saying that after watching him shutdown the Tigers’ powerful lineup.
Tillman pitched 8.1 innings of shutdown baseball, allowing only one run on five hits, matching Verlander pitch-for-pitch until the Baltimore lineup finally broke through against the Cy-Young award winner. Tillman proved that he’s capable of putting a team on his back and carrying them to a huge win against a tough opponent on the road.
Something the Orioles have lacked the last two seasons was a true ace, and despite winning 93 and 85 games respectively over the past two seasons, the Orioles were held back by a pitching staff without a clear-cut ace. But now, in 2014, Baltimore has found their ace. Not only did Tillman pitch a gem, he also showed real emotion out there, he looks like he’s up to the task of leading the Orioles pitching staff through the grueling course of an MLB season.
Tillman’s ability to carry his team and completely shut down a powerful lineup to get his team a win is a great sign for Baltimore, as the Orioles will attempt to win the World Series for the first time since 1983.