Notebook: Control problems fluster Tillman

Right-hander has walked six batters in back-to-back starts

September 19, 2010|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman said his confidence is fine; he knows he can pitch in the major leagues.

The frustrating part, he said, is he is not throwing strikes consistently — and that's getting him into serious trouble with professional hitters.

Tillman lasted just 32/3 innings Sunday in the Orioles' eventual 4-3, 11th-inning victory over the New York Yankees at Camden Yards. He gave up three runs and three hits, but, most alarmingly, he allowed six walks for the second consecutive start. He threw 84 pitches; only 43 were for strikes.

"Walks are obviously a big problem, but I'm not going to buy too much into it. I've never had that problem in my life," said Tillman, who has walked 28 batters and struck out 21 in 402/3 big league innings this season.

In three starts since being recalled from Triple-A Norfolk, all with new manager Buck Showalter watching, Tillman, 22, has walked 15 batters in 152/3 innings.

"I'm not real happy about the 12 walks in [the past] two starts for Tillman. That's not going to work," Showalter said. "That kind of sets a lethargic tone when you're out there in the infield in a day game and it's ball one, ball two, ball three. That's one of the reasons some of our young pitchers have been more successful, because they attack the zone and trust their stuff. That hasn't been the case [for Tillman]."

Tillman said he felt good on the mound Sunday, he was just trying to be too perfect early instead of attacking, and that put him into difficult pitchers' counts.

"Everything is mechanical, being a little too fine. Confidence doesn't have anything to do with it. Trusting my ability and my stuff," he said. "I think, early on, I fell behind everybody and put hitters in a good position to see a good pitch. When they did, they took advantage of it. Late in the count, I didn't make my pitches, either."

Rotation rearranged

With Jake Arrieta shut down for the season, the Orioles have shuffled their rotation for the Boston Red Sox series at Fenway Park. Brad Bergesen, originally scheduled for Wednesday, will pitch in Arrieta's spot Tuesday, and veteran Kevin Millwood will start the series finale Wednesday on regular four days' rest.

Millwood had been tentatively slated for Friday against the Toronto Blue Jays. That turn will go to Jeremy Guthrie or Rick VandenHurk, with one of those two, or potentially Brian Matusz, pitching Saturday in Toronto. If Matusz doesn't pitch Saturday, he would start Sunday.

The Orioles would like to see VandenHurk, who has pitched exclusively in relief since being recalled Aug. 16, start a game or two, but that hasn't been scheduled.

"We'll see," Showalter said. "We're still planning on getting Vandy a start. We're not exactly sure where it's going to slot out yet."

Andino starts at third again

Robert Andino, who had never started a game at third in the big leagues before Friday, made his third straight start at the position Sunday. Rookie Josh Bell, who has been the regular there since Aug. 1 but is batting just .214 with 51 strikeouts in 145 at-bats, sat again.

"We're giving Andino some opportunities that Josh got, and Josh will get to play some more," Showalter said.

In his first two starts at third, Andino had four hits in seven at-bats, including two homers. He also made a nice play to snag a tailing pop-up, but Showalter wanted to see him handle grounders at third. He hadn't had one in his first two games.

Andino's first ground ball came in the sixth Sunday, and he hesitated while going to his left, thinking it was shortstop Cesar Izturis' ball, and instead it trickled into the outfield for a single. Andino cleanly fielded a grounder from the next batter and made a good throw for the out and a little redemption.

At the plate, he was 0-for-4, including a strikeout with two on in the eighth.

"I think the athletic set is impressive," Showalter said of Andino. "I want to see other parts of the game challenge him."

Showalter on Yankee-plunking

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi made it a point after Saturday's game to question why Guthrie hits so many Yankees with pitches. With the first pitch of the game Saturday, Guthrie hit Derek Jeter in the elbow, the first time he has plunked Jeter but the 10th time he has hit a Yankee his career.

Showalter reiterated what Guthrie and Jeter said Friday night, that the pitch wasn't intentional. But Showalter said he understood why Girardi would be miffed that 10 of Guthrie's 37 plunking victims are Yankees.

"I do know you have to pitch a lot of their guys in, and he's had pretty good numbers, comparatively speaking, against Jeter, so I don't think it would be anything intentional," Showalter said. "But I understand how Joe would feel that way. I'd probably feel the same way."

Around the horn

With a first-inning single, Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano has hit safely in 12 straight games against the Orioles. … Adam Jones batted cleanup for the first time this season Sunday. He had a key bunt in the first that scored Roberts. It was the first time since the Kansas City Royals' Jermaine Dye did it Oct. 1, 1999, that a cleanup hitter had a two-out bunt single with a runner in scoring position, according to Elias Sports Bureau. … Former Orioles pitcher Bob Turley, who threw the first pitch at Memorial Stadium in 1954 and recorded a complete-game win that day in the modern-day Orioles' home franchise opener, turned 80 on Sunday. … Norfolk athletic trainer Mark Shires, an Archbishop Spalding graduate and former Crofton resident, has joined the club this month to assist the training staff.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

twitter.com/danconnollysun

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.