Chris Tillman continued his dominance of the International League pitching a one hit shutout against the Charlotte Knights on Monday afternoon. Tillman (8-4 2.72 ERA) gave up one hit a single to Jordan Danks in the 3rd inning in which Danks was erased in a double play and a 6th inning walk to Danks. In doing so Tillman faced only 28 hitters throwing 99 pitches of which 64 were strikes.
The Tides offense was minimal but a two run home run by Rhyne Hughes off of Charlotte ace Dan Hudson (11-4 3.47 ERA) in the 4th inning provided the Tides all the offense that they needed due to Tillman’s masterful pitching. The Tides mustered only 5 hits but they were enough for the win.
Tillman has not lost since returning from his stint in Baltimore where for whatever reason he struggled. I do not think that this was in any means due to his pitching ability but rather self confidence that comes from winning and being on a winning team. In a number of his outings in Baltimore Tillman pitched reasonably well but had no run support from the Orioles offense, something that has plagued every member of the Orioles pitching staff to one degree or another this season even when they pitch well. Tillman has shown maturity in pitching so well since returning to the Tides, others have not fared so well and not just on the Tides, the minors are littered with pitchers who after being sent back got worse and ended up disappearing from baseball. The psychological blow of being a top prospect, getting to the Majors and then returning to the minors can be devastating, but Tillman has handled this well and I expect that he will return to the Orioles and do quite well once he and the other Orioles pitchers get the badly needed hitting support required if they are to post wins.
As for how the Tides are doing it is a case of making improvements but not yet being consistent in their performance. Their team batting average is .244 still last in the league but only a few points from respectability. Likewise the team pitching ERA is improving but marginally as with few exceptions the pitching staff has not been consistent case in point being the blown save and win by Tides pitchers on last Thursday where relievers gave up 7 runs in the last three innings after a great start by Troy Patton. Good performances are subverted by less than stellar performances by others. There are some pitchers that will need to go unless a marked improvement is shown, particularly Alberto Castillo and Cla Meredith. I do think that with a little more seasoning that Troy Patton and Brandon Erbe will do fine, Chris George is a keeper and Andy Mitchell while having seen better days is mature and probably a good person to have in the clubhouse and is great in situational relief where his submarine style crosses up batters that have been used to hard throwing overhand pitchers like Tillman. Jim Miller after a rough start is turning into a winner on a consistent basis and has been solid in middle relief as well as in the closer role, he actually should be more closely looked at by both the Orioles and scouts from other teams. Armando Gabino has had many good outings and pitched well as a starter and reliever. Denis Sarfate has been spot on most of the season but something has gotten to him in his last couple of outings so one hopes that he will regain whatever he has lost in the past few games.
Tonight the Tides go down to Georgia with the Tides’ Zach Britton facing Mike Minor of the Braves.
Peace, Padre Steve