"[I'm] excited. I think everyone's different. And I think the situation's different with everyone, for sure," Tillman said of getting the nod in such a pivotal game. "I take every game and approach it the same way. Not to put any added pressure on yourself. Just go out and try to do the same thing you do every other game."
The O's Opening Day starter, Tillman made his last start at the Rogers Centre, allowing two runs (one earned) over 5 2/3 innings in an Orioles win. It was a nice rebound from his Sept. 22 start against the Red Sox, in which he went a season-low 1 2/3 innings.
"It's a good, tough one, because we've got some people pitching well. You know, we had probably three options, and Chris is one of those good options," manager Buck Showalter said of Tillman, who got the start over Ubaldo Jimenez and Dylan Bundy.
"There's a lot of things that go into it. You know, proper rest, whereas this time of the year anytime that you can give a guy a little extra time, you usually get rewarded for it."
Tillman, who will be pitching on six days' rest, has historically struggled against the Blue Jays. But this year, he's been much better, going 1-0 with a 3.63 ERA in four starts. The same can be said of the Orioles, who didn't win a series in Toronto all season until their final attempt last week.
"You know, I've been here when we've been really, really bad here," said Tillman, who is 5-10 with 5.44 career ERA facing Toronto. "I've been here when we've played pretty well here. I've been on both sides of it. You know, you do have to learn how to play through a situation and in front of certain fans and against certain teams. I think this is a tougher place to play. It has been for us in the past. But ... I think we've been playing good baseball as of late here. I think we're ready."
This will be the third career playoff start for Tillman, who started two games for Baltimore during the 2014 postseason. He has a 6.75 ERA between one AL Division Series game against the Tigers and an AL Championship Series game against the Royals.
"Chris has been one of their top guys the last few years," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "I mean, so we've seen him plenty. He shut us down here just this last week. So, he's tough. He can throw anything at any time. He's a strike-thrower, he's a very good pitcher. So hopefully he'll make some mistakes and we do something with it."
A lot of Tillman's troubles have come in the first inning this season, as he's allowed 14 earned runs and opposing batters are hitting .284/.359/.431 in that frame. If he can limit the damage early, the O's righty could be poised for a big outing.
"I have the same game plan every time. I'm not trying to give up any runs in the first. I don't think anybody is, to tell you the truth," Tillman said. "I'm not going to put any added pressure on myself. Try to keep the fans out of it. I'm going to focus on what I need to do to make good pitches."