Orioles need innings from Tillman vs. Blue Jays
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles return home Friday night to start a weekend series with the Toronto Blue Jays, and Baltimore hopes starter Chris Tillman can give its embattled bullpen some rest.
The Orioles stumbled to a 1-6 record on the road trip that ended with a 6-5 loss in Detroit on Thursday. Baltimore (23-16) begins the series in second place in the American League East, 1 1/2 games behind the Yankees.
Problems with starters and the bullpen haunted the Orioles throughout the trip.
Tillman (1-0, 2.89 ERA) has not lasted longer than five innings in either of his first two starts after returning from the disabled list (shoulder bursitis). The Orioles need him to go longer.
Still, manager Buck Showalter likes what he has seen so far from the team's No. 1 starter. What he wants the most is for Tillman to go deeper into the game to take some kind of pressure off a bullpen that has been asked to do way too much in recent days.
The bullpen already is without All-Star closer Zach Britton for several weeks (left forearm strain) and needs some rest.
"His numbers are probably a little better than his starts," Showalter said of Tillman. "Command has been a challenge for him, as it has been for a lot of our guys. Hopefully, we get on a run where we can get more than four- or five-inning starts. That's what has been the biggest challenge for our bullpen."
Tillman is just 5-10 with a 5.44 ERA in 24 career starts vs. the Jays.
Baltimore also hopes to have third baseman Manny Machado back in the starting lineup. He missed the Thursday matinee in Detroit (sore finger).
Also, Seth Smith had a foul ball bounce up and hit near his left eye Thursday, and the situation worsened as time went on. His status for this game is unknown.
The Orioles now are 10-13 on the road but 13-3 at home.
Aaron Sanchez (0-1, 2.95) makes his fifth start of the season for Toronto and his second after coming off the disabled list, his second time there this year due to blister and nail problems on his finger.
He has a 5-3 record (with a 4.31 ERA) in 14 appearances, including nine starts, versus the Orioles in his career.
Injuries have crushed Toronto (18-24) so far this season, as it has six players on the 10-day disabled list already.
Darrell Ceciliani was injured during a 9-0 victory on Thursday at Atlanta, apparently hurting his left shoulder when hitting a home run in the third. He came out right away.
Three Toronto players hit their first homers of the season, including winning pitcher Marcus Stroman, in that game.
The Jays also will be without center fielder Kevin Pillar, serving the second game of a two-game suspension for using a "homophobic slur" during the game on Wednesday.
"There's no place for this type of language on a baseball field, at home, in the clubhouse, with your friends, in the privacy of your home," Pillar told the media in an apology. "I regret saying it wholeheartedly."
Updated May 19, 2017