Chris Tillman handcuffs his former team yet again
BALTIMORE — All it takes is a trip to Camden Yards, it seems, to have the Erik Bedard trade rubbed in the Mariners’ faces yet again.
Last year, it was Chris Tillman pitching a gem, supported by a two-run Adam Jones triple, in an Orioles’ victory here.
And Monday night, it was Tillman again, with more help from another offshoot of the ill-fated trade, Mark Reynolds, combining to lead the Orioles past Seattle, 3-1.
Tillman, acquired along with Jones and pitchers George Sherrill, Kam Mickolio and Tony Butler in the February 2008 trade that sent Bedard to Seattle, beat the Mariners for the third time in three starts.
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This was another strong effort. Tillman gave up just one run on five hits in 7-1/3 innings, walking one and striking out five. He has a 0.83 earned-run average in the three games (including a victory at Safeco Field earlier this year in which he didn’t give up any earned runs in 8-1/3 innings and earned the victory with support from a Jones homer).
“I feel his curveball had a really good bite in the early innings,” said Eric Thames, who scored the only Mariners run after an eighth-inning double. “The ball would start at your chest, and you’d swing in the dirt. A big 12-6. His fastball had good life up in the zone, and a good changeup. All his stuff was pretty much on. Whenever we were sitting on pitches, he threw the opposite pitch.”
The Mariners didn’t get their first hit off Tillman until one out in the fifth, when Mike Carp — who missed batting practice because of his late arrival from a flight back from California, where he had gone to see his new baby girl — grounded an opposite-field single to left against the Orioles’ shift.
They finally broke through in the eighth when Thames, after his leadoff double, came home on Munenori Kawasaki’s single, ending a streak of 28 consecutive scoreless innings by Orioles pitchers. But Kawasaki was thrown out trying to advance to second when the throw home was cut off, and the Mariners’ rally got no further.
“He has to stay at first on that one,” manager Eric Wedge said. “That one hurt us. Great job on the base hit, but as soon as he sees that throw low on line like that, he has to put on the breaks and stay at first base.”
Kawasaki acknowledged his mistake.
“All I had in mind was to drive the ball to center field and get the runner in,” he said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. “But then it was a bad judgment around first base in trying to get to second. I regret that because that’s where you want to gain that momentum and I wasn’t able to get that so that was unfortunate.
“I thought I would be safe at second. That was my first thought.”
Meanwhile, Seattle starter Jason Vargas faltered in just one inning, but it did him in as his streak of five consecutive victories came to an end. The Orioles scored all of their runs in the second off Vargas, the American League’s Pitcher of the Month in July.
Lew Ford — who last week had his first major-league hit since 2007 — led off with a broken-bat single. He scored on a double to left-center by Reynolds, who had three hits in the game.
As the Orioles gleefully pointed out in their pregame notes, in a section captioned “The Gift That Keeps On Giving” on the Bedard deal, Reynolds came to the Orioles in a trade with Arizona — for Mickolio.
The big blow came with two outs in the second, when Nick Markakis, on a 1-2 pitch, drilled a two-run homer to right. It was the Reynolds at-bat, however, that still frustrated Vargas afterward.
“That pitch to Reynolds I left over the plate allowed them to extend the inning,” Vargas said. “Markakis hit a curveball I kind of hung over the plate a little bit, but that all could have been avoided if I executed to Reynolds.”
In all, Vargas worked eight innings, giving up eight hits and no walks, striking out three in going the distance.
“He gave us every chance to win the ballgame,” Wedge said, “and I wanted to give him every chance to win the ballgame.”
For Baltimore, Jim Johnson worked the ninth for his league-leading 33rd save, despite giving up two infield singles. Thames hit into a force on a hard-hit grounder that shortstop J.J. Hardy made a nice play on to end it.
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @StoneLarry.