Mariners starting pitcher Taijuan Walker had one of his less crisp outings of the season, taking the loss and falling to 2-3.

Share story

BALTIMORE — Chris Tillman as a Mariner is more of a concept than a memory.

The 28-year-old right-hander never reached higher than Class A with the organization before being dealt away along with Adam Jones and three other players to the Orioles in exchange for left-hander Erik Bedard before the 2008 season. The most regrettable trade in franchise history still sticks in the craw of many a Mariner fan.

It’s exacerbated each time he beats Seattle, providing a little extra sting for fans seeing their once-promising prospect — the Mariners’ 2007 minor-league pitcher of the year — remind them of what might’ve been. And it’s something that’s happened often in his career.


Mariners @ Baltimore, 9:35 a.m., ROOT Sports

Tillman continued his brilliant start to the 2016 season for the Orioles on Wednesday night at Camden Yards, working his fifth straight quality start to lead Baltimore to a 5-2 victory over the Mariners.

The lanky right-hander wasn’t overpowering, but he allowed just two runs on three hits with three walks and five strikeouts over 61/3 innings to improve to 6-1 on the season and lower his ERA to 2.61 in nine starts this season.

“He’s having a really good year,” manager Scott Servais said. “He’s got all four pitches. He really competes well and doesn’t give you a whole lot to hit.”

That’s been the case often against the Mariners (22-17), who selected Tillman in the second round — the 49th overall pick — of the 2006 draft out of Fountain Valley, Calif.

In nine career starts vs. Seattle, Tillman is 7-0 with a 2.96 ERA.

“He commands his fastball,” said Nelson Cruz, a teammate of Tillman’s in 2013. “He was throwing curveballs against righties and sliders and change-ups against lefties. He was on.”

The Mariners needed their starter Taijuan Walker also to be “on” against Baltimore’s powerful hitting lineup. Instead, Walker delivered one of his less sharp outings of the season, working just five innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on five hits with three walks and two strikeouts, falling to 2-3.

“There wasn’t quite the same crispness to his stuff we saw the last time out,” Servais said. “He just wasn’t on top of his game tonight. He battled and kept us there. But we’ve certainly seen better stuff.”

Walker needed 91 pitches to fight his way through five innings’ worth of Orioles hitters and the erratic strike zone of umpire Rob Drake. With a fastball that wasn’t quite as lively as normal and a curveball that was nonexistent, Walker couldn’t find a rhythm or easy at-bats or outs.

“I wasn’t able to locate too well and I got behind,” he said. “I had trouble with my mechanics a little bit. I was flying open.”

A misplaced 0-1 curveball that stayed up in the zone to former teammate Mark Trumbo was quickly redirected and sent deep into the left-field stands at a high rate of speed to start the second inning. The solo blast was Trumbo’s 12th homer of the season.

“I threw a hanging curveball, and Trumbo is a power hitter that doesn’t miss mistakes,” Walker said. “It was a mistake pitch.”

The Orioles made it back-to-back homers when Matt Wieters yanked a 2-2 fastball onto the right-field concourse to make it 2-0.

Seattle needed two innings to tie it. Leonys Martin cut the lead in half, leading off the top of the third with a solo homer off Tillman, sending a line drive onto the right-field concourse. It was Martin’s sixth homer of the season.

The Mariners tied the score in the top of the fourth. Cruz doubled to start the inning and later came around to score on Chris Iannetta’s sacrifice fly to deep center.

But Walker couldn’t come back with a shutdown bottom half of the fourth. Trumbo singled to left with one out and Wieters hammered a long fly ball off the center-field wall and just out of the reach of a leaping Martin, who couldn’t quite make yet another spectacular catch. The ball bounced far enough way that Trumbo was able to score from first to make it 3-2.

“Just missed it,” Martin said. “I tried to find the wall with my hand.”

Walker helped Baltimore manufacture another run in the fifth. A leadoff walk to Hyun Soo Kim and his throwing error on a double play attempt on an easy comebacker to the mound put runners on first and second with no outs.

“I just rushed it,” he said.

Walker was able to get two outs and looked like he might get out of the inning without allowing a run, but he walked Chris Davis to load the bases and uncorked a wild pitch on his first pitch to Trumbo to allow the run to score.

Down 4-2, Seattle had a serious rally chance in the eighth. The Mariners loaded the bases against reliever Brad Brach on a hustling, one-out double from Robinson Cano, a walk from Cruz and a hard single to right by Kyle Seager. With Adam Lind coming to the plate, Orioles manager Buck Showalter went to his closer Zach Britton for a five-out save.

Servais countered with Dae-Ho Lee as a pinch-hitter. But the matchup mattered little. Britton pumped sinking fastball after sinking fastball at Lee — all 96 mph — eventually striking him out swinging.