Despite 'decent pitches,' Tillman takes loss

Despite 'decent pitches,' Tillman takes loss

ARLINGTON -- For the third consecutive start this season, Orioles righty Chris Tillman left early.

Tillman threw only 22 pitches and two innings before a rain delay on Opening Day; he lasted five innings and 83 pitches in his second start, a win over Tampa Bay last Friday. The Orioles' ace could not get out of the sixth inning Thursday in a 6-3 loss to the Rangers, despite pitching five solid innings prior.

"Personally, I feel like I made some decent pitches throughout," Tillman said of Thursday's start. "I feel like I had the stuff to get deep in that game."

Tilman allowed five hits and five runs in his final frame in large part because the balls found holes, not because his stuff was subpar, manager Buck Showalter said.

"He gave us a good chance to win. … It was pretty easy not to overthink that," Showalter said. "It was just one of those nights where he didn't get the breaks he deserved. Over the course of a season, those things kind of equal out."

Tillman pitched seven or more innings eight times in 31 starts last season and threw 100 or more pitches in 17 starts, but he hasn't been able to stretch out yet in three outings this season.

Showalter praised Tillman and made clear that he didn't think Thursday's defeat came down to his pitcher's performance.

"If he could have continued, it's unfortunate that the game just dictated that he was done," Showalter said. "They didn't hit that many balls hard off him. I've been so impressed with how crisp he's been since the first day of spring, really his second outing of spring. He's carrying this type of stuff. He's going to be a real contributor for us."

Tillman suffered his first loss since Sept. 6, 2015, at Toronto. He had been 3-0 over his first four starts in Arlington. One rough inning was all it took to spoil the 9-0 record he had against American League West teams. After Nomar Mazara doubled to start the sixth inning, Tillman got Prince Fielder to pop out to Jonathan Schoop. It was the last batter Tillman would retire. Adrian Beltre, Mitch Moreland and Ian Desmond followed with hits, and then Rougned Odor Chased Tillman from the game with a go-ahead two-run double.

"They were OK pitches, they weren't great pitches, they could have been better," Tillman said. "The pitches definitely could have been there and could have been a little bit better, but you can't defend the kind of stuff they did late in the game."

Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.