A pitching duel between two American League All-Stars swung the Orioles way in game 3, as they were able to salvage their only win from a three game set in Detroit, defeating the Tigers 3-1. Chris Tillman (1-0), a first time All-Star in 2013, picked up his first win of the season by out dueling six time All-Star Justin Verlander (0-1) at Comerica Park to hand the Tigers their first loss. Tillman took a 2-1 lead into the ninth inning, retiring Miguel Cabrera on a ground out for the opening out of the inning. After a one out double by Victor Martinez, Tillman was replaced by Tommy Hunter, who retired the last two batters for his second save in as many attempts. Tillman’s only blemish on the afternoon was a fourth inning solo home run to Torii Hunter, one of five hits given up by Tillman on the day to go along with five strikeouts and one walk. Verlander lasted a full eight innings, allowing two runs and five hits with three strike outs and two walks.
The victory for the Orioles was much needed, as the team sat at 1-4 and dead last in the AL East. The win ties them with Boston for last place in the division, albeit just 1.5 games behind Tampa Bay in the young season with their first trip to New York to face the Yankees in a three game set to commence on Monday. The Orioles and Yankees will face off a total of 19 times this season.
The Orioles will be disappointed to come away from Detroit with only one win from the series, after collecting only one win in their opening series versus Boston. The Orioles were hammered on Friday, losing 10-4 as Miguel Gonzalez gave up nine hits and seven earned runs in his first start of the season. He was chased after only 3 1-3 innings of work as the Tigers hitters were able to tee off on his pitching. In fact, the Orioles collective performance prompted manager Buck Showalter to lament the number of early games which occur at the beginning of the season. “When you are playing on 3 1/2 hours of sleep, it makes it tough, but that’s what happens when you are playing so many day games at this time of the year,” Showalter said.
The Orioles were still sleeping in the second game of the series, as the Tigers carried a 7-1 lead heading into the top of the ninth before the Orioles exploded for five runs before eventually being retired one run shy of Detroit. Bud Norris threw 103 pitches over 5 innings of work, allowing nine hits and five earned runs. Baltimore looked dead in the water until the top of the ninth, when Chris Davis kicked things off with a single followed by a RBI triple by Adam Jones. Nick Markakis then grounded out to short, bringing home Jones and bringing the Orioles within 4 runs. After a walk and two singles to load the bases, pinch hitter Steve Clevenger hit a ground rule double, scoring two and leaving runners on second and third. David Lough then reached base on a throwing error, allowing another Orioles run to score, bringing the Orioles to within one run. However, the comeback would fall short with Nelson Cruz striking out and Chris Davis flying out to end the comeback.
Some of the positives the Orioles have been able to take from their opening two series is the hitting of Matt Wieters, who is batting .368 with three runs scored and two RBI’s. An improved Matt Wieters bat would be huge for the team’s success this season. Nelson Cruz has managed some big hits in his short Orioles tenure, with two home runs and four RBI’s through six games. Additionally, Chris Davis and Adam Jones appear to be getting their bats back in order after a slow start. On the mound, Chris Tillman’s early pitching bodes well for the team moving forward. He has posted a 1.35 ERA and 1.05 WHIP through his first two starts.
Now, if the Orioles could just get some reliable starting pitching from the rest of their starters. Ubaldo Jimenez will be the first to get that chance Monday afternoon in New York.
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