The O’s may have gotten a glimpse of the future this past weekend in New York, with Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz both posting victories as the Birds took the series with the Yankees.
On Friday, Tillman had a mildly difficult first inning, giving up a three-run homer to Alex Rodriguez. After that though, he scattered 7 hits through 4 more innings while giving up only one more run (and K’ing 8 – more on that in a sec). Despite the short start, Tillman still got a W as the O’s put 10 runs up on the Yanks and Mark Hendrickson pitched three shutout innings for the save. Every Oriole – including three pinch-hitters – reached base.
Tillman was a strike-out pitcher in the minors (9.2 K/9 in Triple-A this year), but hadn’t carried that through to the majors yet. The big curveball was his main weapon, getting 5 K’s on it swinging. Tillman also struck Jorge Posada out looking three times – once on each of his pitches (fastball, curveball, and change-up). The 8 groundsballs to 4 flyballs (though one left the yard) was also a plus.
Saturday it was Brian Matusz’s turn, and he didn’t disappoint with 7 innings of one-run ball. His 3 K’s wasn’t an exceptional total, but New York only managed 6 baserunners (4 hits and 2 walks). Nolan Reimold and Brian Roberts both homered – Roberts’ was a grand slam – and even with a small hiccup from Jim Johnson in the 9th (3 H, 2 R) the O’s won 7-3. Matusz was officially shut down for the rest of the season, and will finish with a 5-2 record. Can’t complain about that.
On Sunday, Jeremy Guthrie couldn’t keep the winning ways going, giving up 5 runs on 12 hits(!) in his 5.2 IP before the bullpen – namely Chris Waters and Bob McCrory – really let it get away from them. It didn’t help that the O’s couldn’t take advantage of 4 walks by CC Sabathia (and only one strike-out), and the Birds failed to complete the sweep with the 13-3 loss.
Winning a series is always nice – especially against the Yankees – especially when it’s the pitchers the team’s counting on for the future that do the winning.