All season the one underlying issue for the Baltimore Orioles has been whether or not their starting pitching was good enough to get them to the playoffs. This weekend the rotation showed without a shout of a doubt that the top three guys are ready to make a statement as Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez and Wei-Yin Chen each pitched extremely well leading the O’s to a three game sweep over the Texas Rangers.
Tillman (12-3) got the start in yesterday’s finale and was brilliant. He started the ninth inning,but once he gave up a leadoff homer to Adrian Beltre, Manager Buck Showalter came out to get his ace. Tillman put in eight plus innings of two run baseball while allowing six hits, three walks and striking out seven. It was the 12th win of the season for Tillman and he has a legitimate show to be the Orioles first 20 game winner in quite some time. Tillman is also tied for the third most wins in all of baseball with his 12. His eight plus inning gem also gave the Birds the three game sweep of the Rangers and a 1 1/2 game lead for the second wildcard position.
Gonzalez (8-3) continued to impress and solidify himself as one of the best “bulldog” pitchers in the game. Miguel has the knack for pitching his way out of jams with little to no damage and when you look up it is the seventh inning and he is still out there. In game two of the series he did just that. Gonzalez game the O’s 6 2/3 solid innings, while allowing just one run on eight hits, zero walks and three strikeouts. Gonzalez now has eight wins on the season and has dropped his ERA to a miniscule 3.34.
Chen (5-3) turned in another solid outing since coming off the disabled list earlier this month and got the second half of the season started right in the series opener on Friday. He has also shown a knack for getting out of tight spots during the game and he too pitched into the seventh inning for Baltimore. Chen tosses 6 1/3 innings, while allowing just one run on eight hits, two walks and three strikeouts. There is no question that his return has solidified the top half of this rotation.
The Orioles have now won four straight and seven of their last eight and a large part of those victories was the starting pitching. Tonight Scott Feldman (1-1) will get the start and will be followed by Jason Hammel (7-6) tomorrow. Feldman and Hammel are the two question marks now in the starting rotation for the Birds and will need to find a way to give the O’s quality starts. Both guys do not have to be perfect, they just need to manage their pitch counts to allow themselves to give the team six plus innings and keep the Brids in the game. If Feldman and Hammel can do that, this Orioles offense is going to score runs and this Baltimore team is going to win a lot of games en route to a second consecutive playoff appearance. On the flip side, if Hammel and Feldman continue to give five or less innings and all opponents to light up the scoreboard, Baltimore may be watching on their sofa’s in October.
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