It’s early. There are 160 games left in the baseball season. But Buck’s Birds have secured a series win against the defending AL East Champion Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field and so far the Orioles have gotten “W’s” with solid pitching performances from Jeremy Guthrie and Chris Tillman and great defense behind their pitchers.
Saturday night Chris Tillman pitched six no hit innings before being relieved by Jeremy Accardo, who recorded the win. Tillman threw 101 pitches, struck out five and retired 11 straight Rays batters. “Once he settled in and started getting [the] breaking ball over a little bit, Matty [Wieters] made him throw the change up which made his fastball that much better,” O’s manager Buck Showalter told Gary Thorne after the game.
Orioles catcher Matt Wieters has been a valuable asset to the starters in Baltimore’s first two games of the season. After Jeremy Guthrie’s eight inning performance on Friday night, Guthrie told the media that he shook off Wieters once and it costed him a hit.
Showalter marveled at his team’s defense in Saturday’s win, complimenting Felix Pie for gunning out B.J. Upton at the plate to end the 7th inning (no dispute on from Upton this time), Roberts play at second, Reynolds’ catch by the Orioles dugout in first inning and of course Nick Markakis’ game saving catch on a deep fly ball hit by Ben Zobrist in the ninth. “We actually turned that play in the last inning, but didn’t get the call,” Showalter said about Matt Joyce’s fielders choice in the 9th.
While the Orioles offense is certainly improved, this small sample size has shown that pitching can carry the team to wins as well. Orioles pitchers saw marked improvements in August after Showalter took over. Perhaps the support of Buck’s coaching staff will improve this young rotation.
Early signs are optimistic. Now it should be fun to see what Zach Britton has to offer the club in his MLB debut as the O’s go for the sweep.