ST. PETERSBURG -- Tyler Wilson has been a feel-good story for the Orioles this season, as last year's Minor League Pitcher of the Year had allowed just six runs in his first six games total with the Orioles.
So it wasn't surprising when Baltimore -- which recalled Wilson on Tuesday following the end of the Triple-A season -- gave Wilson a spot start on Friday. What was surprising was that the rookie right-hander, who entered the day 2-1 with a 2.19 ERA (including two starts) allowed six runs over 4 1/3 innings in the Orioles' 8-6 loss.
"[It was] extremely frustrating," Wilson said. "I was really excited for how the team came back last night from 3-0 to win that game. That's an opportunity to really build some momentum coming into the last home stretch of the season. I thought about it all last night and coming in today, how important it is for a starting pitcher to take command of the game from pitch one. And that's how momentum is built.
"I was pretty amped up when I went out there and a combination of being excited and having that adrenaline going for not only a spot start, but an opportunity to kind of build some momentum for the team, led to what it led to. I missed the first inning and, continuing through the game, I missed up throughout the game. I was underneath the ball, and that's really a result of rushing through your delivery, speeding up. And that's a result of the energy that I had, and I need to do a better job of harnessing that."
Wilson had gone six innings and 7 2/3 in his previous two starts, turning in quality starts in both and giving the O's rotation a nice lift. But nights like Friday show, if nothing else, that there is still a learning curve for the righty to find consistent success, particularly on nights he doesn't have his command.
"He's going to have a challenge then," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "But that [fastball command] is his forte, and I think he will pitch better. I think the six or seven days he's had [off] and the time of year, you got to keep in mind these guys have never really pitched in September before. So it's part of the process, and I think he will learn from it. He's a sharp, competitive guy."
Staked to a three-run lead, Wilson surrendered a two-run homer to Tim Beckham in the bottom half of the second inning on Friday. He couldn't get out of trouble in the fifth, watching Grady Sizemore's bases-clearing double chase him from the game.
"Just command of the fastball," Showalter said of the difference in Wilson on Friday night. "I was talking with [catcher] Caleb [Joseph]. He probably hit the spot maybe four or five times. That's not him. He's capable of pitching up here, as you've seen, when he commands the baseball."
Wilson, the Orioles' 10th-round pick out of the University of Virginia in the 2011 Draft, said it wasn't so much the long layoff as it was not being able to make an in-game adjustment.
"Yeah, it is uncharacteristic to lose fastball command, to lose the ability to command on both sides of the plate," he said. "It happens from time to time to everybody, and I need to do a better job of making the adjustment in-game and making whatever change needs to be done."