O's Let One Slip Away

Failure To Hit In Clutch, Mistakes In 10th Waste Tillman's Quality Start

August 09, 2009|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

TORONTO - -The story should have been about the best performance in Chris Tillman's nascent career and how the 21-year-old rookie overcame fatigue and decreased velocity on his fastball to pitch into the seventh inning and give the Orioles every chance to win.

But seemingly with each positive development for the Orioles this season, there comes a frustrating loss. Presented a chance Saturday to sew up a series victory, the Orioles left 10 runners on base and allowed the Toronto Blue Jays' Brian Tallet to throw five scoreless innings in relief.

Ty Wigginton, playing second base after an injury to Brian Roberts, then failed to make two key plays in the bottom of the 10th inning, and the Orioles lost, 3-2, before an announced 28,613 at the Rogers Centre.

Three batters after Wigginton couldn't handle Joe Inglett's ground-ball hit, and one batter after Aaron Hill's blooper deflected off the top of his glove, Adam Lind lined Danys Baez's pitch off the left-field wall. Marco Scutaro scored from second without a throw and the Orioles (46-64) lost for the fourth time in six games on this road trip and the 16th time in 22 games after the All-Star break.

They'll now have to contend with All-Star Roy Halladay in this afternoon's series finale.

"I was hoping to get the balls," said Wigginton, who pinch hit for Robert Andino in the ninth inning after Roberts had exited the game in the third with a bruised left shin. "The first one hit off the heel of my glove. I should have made that play. The second ball got in the lights. I was actually surprised it hit my glove. It is what it is. It's unfortunate we didn't find a way out of it."

To be fair, Wigginton got a good break to even have a play on Hill's flare in shallow center field, and Inglett's ground ball wasn't routine, especially not for a guy who has made just four starts at second base all year.

The Orioles' offense, however, had no excuses, not after going 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position and failing to punish the Blue Jays, who lost starter Brett Cecil (University of Maryland) to left knee irritation with one out in the fifth inning.

They had the bases loaded and one out with the game tied in the sixth, but Tallet retired Matt Wieters and Cesar Izturis on popouts. They had men on second and third with two outs in the seventh and Nolan Reimold grounded out. Nick Markakis led off the 10th with a double and never moved off second base as Aubrey Huff struck out and Reimold and Melvin Mora grounded out.

The strikeout of Huff particularly annoyed Orioles manager Dave Trembley, who felt that Huff foul tipped strike three into the dirt before it went into Blue Jays' catcher Raul Chavez's mitt. However, plate umpire Gary Cederstrom checked with third base umpire Jim Wolf, and they ruled that Chavez had caught the ball.

"I wonder what all the dirt was flying up in the air for if the ball was caught," said Trembley, who protested the call. "It must have been a Blue Jays' bird that flew down in the sky that kicked [the dirt]. What are you going to do? It's not the game, but it certainly was a crucial at-bat."

Trembley did take some solace in the performance of Tillman, who allowed two earned runs on four hits and three walks over 6 2/3 innings in his longest outing. Tillman's fastball, which usually tops off in the mid-90s, was consistently in the high 80s through the first couple of innings. His command at the beginning of his third major league start wasn't great either as the right-hander walked the leadoff batter in his first two innings and allowed a two-run homer to Alex Rios in the second.

"My whole body felt drained, like I threw yesterday. I felt real worn out," said Tillman, who spent the time in between innings stretching and trying to get loose. "I tried to get a lot out of my bullpen and I think I overdid it. I came up from the bullpen a little sore, but [Wieters] helped me battle through it."

Tillman said he felt better as the game wore on, and his velocity was back in the 90s in the sixth and seventh innings, when he retired five of the final six hitters he faced, three of them on strikeouts.

"He said he had trouble getting loose in the first inning, but, boy, he sure pitched a whale of a game," Trembley said. "He got better. That's the most pitches [110] he's thrown all year. Physically, there was nothing wrong with him. He just felt like he really didn't have the mustard on his fastball starting off. But he sure got better. ... He pitched good enough obviously to win the game."


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