ANAHEIM, Calif. – In this Southern California landscape full of highways, Baltimore Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman grew up just a 30-minute drive from Angel Stadium. And despite having 56 major league starts under his belt, Thursday night’s against the Los Angeles Angels was his first one in a long drive back home.
It was worth the wait. Tillman’s homecoming was a memorable one as he recorded one of his most dominating starts of his big league career, allowing just three hits over eight shutout innings to lead the Orioles to a 5-1 victory in the opener of a four-game series.
The Orioles (17-12) scored just three runs in eight innings off Angels starter Joe Blanton, but it was enough to earn their fifth win in eight games on this three-city, 11-game West Coast road trip. One more win in the remaining three games will ensure a winning record on their only road trip entirely through the AL West this season.
The win was the Orioles’ third in their last 11 games at Angel Stadium and their sixth in the last 19 games against the Angels overall.
Tillman — who was born in Anaheim, went to high school in Fountain Valley and still lives in nearby Irvine — turned in his most dominating performance of the season after overcoming some early obstacles.
Tillman overcame a 24-pitch first inning in which he allowed two singles and a walk and needed a pinpoint throw to the plate from right fielder Nick Markakis to prevent a run.
The 25-year-old Tillman cruised through a treacherous Angels lineup, at one point retiring 11 straight and ultimately 20 of the final 21 batters he faced.
Following a Hank Gonger single with one out in the second, Tillman didn’t allow another base runner until Erick Aybar led off the sixth with a single. He yielded nothing after that before giving way to closer Jim Johnson in the ninth. Seventy-three of Tillman’s 114 pitches were strikes.
Johnson yielded a two-run homer to Angels slugger Albert Pujols in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough for an free-falling L.A. team that set a club record with 17 losses in April and opened the night already seven games in back of first-place Texas in the AL West.
In two career starts against the Angels (10-18), Tillman has a 1.84 ERA. He is also 9-1 with a 2.11 ERA in 11 career starts against teams from the AL West.
Third baseman Manny Machado extended his hitting streak to 11 games with two hits, including an RBI single in the third that plated the Orioles’ first run of the game.