Chris Tillman picked up his first major league win tonight against the Angels. It wasn’t a fantastic start – 6.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 3 K, 1 HR – but it was plenty good enough on a day when the offense put 16 runs on the board. Not much new from Tillman in this one: his fastball averaged a little over 92 mph and hit 95, but was still pretty straight; the change-up had decent tail but not much sink, though he was able to throw it for strikes; and that big breaking curveball, though he wasn’t able to get it over and the Angels hitters refused to chase it (probably why he only had 3 K’s). A quality start’s a quality start, and I’m sure Tillman is just happy to get his first victory. Every Orioles batter had a hit and scored a run, with the key-stone combo of Brian Roberts doubling three times to extend his league lead in that category to 43 and Cesar Izturis picking up three hits (including a triple), scoring twice, and driving in three. The game belonged to Felix Pie though, who took advantage of an opportunity to play (which has been pretty rare this year) to show people why he used to be a top prospect and why the O’s traded for him.
Coming into the game Pie was hitting just .234/.295/.336, and in the first inning he made one of those plays on defense that drives people crazy, throwing a ball away after a hit (by Vlad Guerrero, on a ball that bounced in front of the plate before he looped it into left) allowing a runner to score (Tillman’s unearned run). After that though, it was the Felix Pie show. Bottom of the first he makes amends for his error with an RBI double off the scoreboard in right-field. Top of the third on defense, he robs Chone Figgins of a hit with a diving catch in left-field. In the bottom of that frame he turns on a down-and-in curveball and drives it out to right for a home run. He leads off the bottom of the seventh with an infield single to shortstop, helping spark a 7 run inning in which the team would bat around (for the second time in the game). Up for the second time in that inning, Pie already had a single, double, and home run. Needing only a triple for the cycle, he pulls a fastball into the gap in right-center and is off to the races – sliding in with the easy triple. Pie is now hitting .254/.312/.394 (he raised his OPS by 75 points today), and may have ensured himself a little more regular playing time going forward. Great game all around, and definitely provides a boost for the club.