MINNEAPOLIS — Chris Tillman’s supposed rebirth after refining his mechanics in the minor leagues didn’t hit a snag Monday night in Minnesota. It derailed in a horrible way in a 19-7 loss to the Minnesota Twins.
The 24-year-old right-hander arrived to the Baltimore Orioles with optimism that he could be a consistent major league starter. At Class AAA Norfolk, he honed his mechanics, made his delivery more fluid and above all showed the Orioles he deserved an opportunity as a starter.
An 81 / 3-inning effort in Seattle, where he allowed no earned runs and just two hits in his MLB season debut, provided hope — just what the organization needed with its major league rotation tattered with uncertainty.
But after an ugly outing on Monday night — he lasted just two-thirds of an inning, the shortest outing by an Orioles starter in nearly a year — the question was raised whether that hope was false.
The 12-run margin of defeat tied a season high.
By comparison, the Twins had just 15 hits in the entire three-game, season-opening series at Camden Yards.
They totaled 20 on Monday night.
The Orioles (46-43) are nine games behind the division-leading Yankees but remained in second place, just a half-game ahead of the Rays and Red Sox.
Also, it marked the first time the Orioles were fewer than four games above .500 since April 24, when they were 10-7.
With starter Jason Hammel shelved for at least a month after undergoing successful knee surgery earlier in the day, the Orioles could have pieced together his scheduled start Wednesday from the bullpen.
But the Baltimore relievers were forced to produce 22 outs on Monday. And with left-hander Zach Britton making his first major league start on Tuesday, the reinforcements in Norfolk are getting scarce.
The story of the night, however, was Tillman. The knock on the young pitcher has been inconsistency, specifically his inability to piece together back-to-back quality starts.
It was the shortest start by an Orioles starter since July 30, 2011, when Britton lasted just one-third of an inning at Yankee Stadium.
Tillman threw 49 pitches in his ill-fated outing. He faced 10 Twins before he was pulled, charged with seven runs on five hits — even though just one of them was earned.
The Twins (37-52) hadn’t scored more than five runs in a game since July 3.
Tillman nearly escaped the inning having allowed just one run. But with the bases loaded and two outs, Mark Reynolds didn’t snag Ryan Doumit’s sharp grounder into the hole at first and three runs scored. Three batters later, after Denard Span’s three-run double, Tillman was out of the game.
— Baltimore Sun