While his teammates were still flying to Southern California after a late game at Seattle, Chris Tillman was already in his own bed at his Fountain Valley home, resting up for his first start in the ballpark he used to frequent often while growing up.
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Tillman returned to his hometown and outpitched Joe Blanton with eight scoreless innings of three-hit ball, right fielder Nick Markakis threw out Mike Trout at the plate, and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Los Angeles Angels 5-1 Thursday night.
”It’s special to pitch in front of your family and friends, especially a good one like this,” Tillman said. ”The big thing was throwing strikes early and (to) work off my fastball command. I was a little off in the first and second inning, but Matt (Wieters) did a good job of making me throw all of my pitches, and I think that’s what got me back on track. He’s been great with me all year.”
Markakis also hit an RBI double and Nate McLouth hit a two-run homer in the ninth, a drive to center field that bounced off Trout’s glove as he jumped for it at the top of the fence.
Tillman (2-1) struck out three, walked two and retired 20 of his last 21 batters en route to his second win in two career starts against the Angels, including his first major league victory on Aug. 14, 2009 at Baltimore. The 25-year-old right-hander is 9-1 with a 2.11 ERA in 11 career starts against AL West teams.
”I think he had something like 23 out of 29 first-pitch strikes, and that was the difference,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. ”You could tell early on he had a crisp fastball. Pitching that eighth inning was huge. I know there were about seven guys in down in the bullpen who really liked it – including the bullpen catcher.”
Blanton (0-5) allowed three runs – two earned – and eight hits over eight innings, and is winless in his first six starts of a season for the second time in his 10-year career. The right-hander was 0-5 through his first 10 starts in 2005 with Oakland.
It went a couple of games longer than I hoped it would,” Blanton said. ”When things weren’t going good, you retrace your steps of things that clean you up. Hopefully it happens quick but sometimes it doesn’t. It’s just making sure I use the slope to drive me down, allow my arm to get out and really attack the bottom of the zone.”
Manny Machado’s RBI single in the third inning extended his hitting streak to 11 games. Blanton didn’t allow another hit until the sixth, when Adam Jones singled to right one pitch after fouling a ball hard off his left shin and taking some time to shake off the pain.
Chris Davis followed with a double into the right field corner, and Jones legged it all the way around – just beating second baseman Howie Kendrick’s relay from Josh Hamilton.
”Adam Jones is a tough hombre,” Showalter said. ”Try taking a ball off the shin, then poking a ball into right field and scoring from first on a double. That’s a challenge. But I think that’s what a lot of people miss most about Adam. He’s a tough guy.”
The Orioles made it 3-0 in the seventh with Markakis’ two-out RBI double after a two-base throwing error by Brendan Harris, who charged Nolan Reimold’s grounder and barehanded the ball before air-mailing it into the first row behind the Orioles’ dugout.
Tillman walked two batters in the first, including Mark Trumbo on eight pitches with two out. Hamilton singled to right field on the next pitch, but Markakis charged the ball and made a perfect one-hop throw to the plate, where Wieters put the tag on Trout as he came in standing up. It was the second outfield assist by the Orioles this season and the first involving a play at home.
”The fact that we didn’t score in the first inning might have taken a little wind out of our sails,” Trumbo said. ”We’ve got to get better at doing things like that. Obviously we’re not on any kind of a roll, so the small things become that much more important.”
Albert Pujols homered in the ninth inning for the Angels against closer Jim Johnson.
NOTES:Jones was hopping around home plate again in the seventh after fouling a ball off the inside of his left foot. … Longtime Angels nemesis Freddy Garcia has been penciled in to start against them on Saturday. The 36-year-old righty is 16-3 with a 2.66 ERA in 28 career starts against the Halos. He signed a minor league contract on March 27, three days after he was released by San Diego. … Davis was chosen Thursday as AL player of the month, the first Oriole to win the award since Melvin Mora in August 2008. … Only 15 managers in major league history have piloted the same team for more consecutive seasons than Mike Scioscia, who took the Angels job in 2000. Three of them were contemporaries – Bobby Cox (Atlanta), Tony La Russa (St. Louis) and Tom Kelly (Minnesota).