Q. Chris, have you been concentrating on trying to treat this start just like any other and how difficult is that to do?
CHRIS TILLMAN: I've always been under the impression you have to prepare for every game the same, you can't ask more of yourself and can't ask less. As a ball club, we've been doing a good job of that all year. I think it's important for us to, you know, stay the same and not try and do too much.
Q. Can you put into words, being up there now, Game 1 starter, after the last couple of years, and where you've been, maybe, say, even in 2012? The journey where you are now and if you ever thought you would be sitting here talking to us?
CHRIS TILLMAN: It has been a journey, to say the least. I had a couple of rough years early on and kinda turned things around come 2012. I think that goes to show where the organization is at, not just personally, but all the way throughout.
We've done some big things defensively that helped the pitching staff, helped all of us, really. And for myself, I think, like I've always said, it's a big puzzle and you're trying to find the pieces to it and put the puzzle together.
Q. Chris, this starting staff collectively has come together as a family even to the point where you go down and watch each other's backup sessions. How has that camaraderie helped translate on to the field with more consistent pitching and winning?
CHRIS TILLMAN: I think it's huge. It's something Buck put in place this year, we've been out to everyone's bull pens, we know what they're working on, we know what makes these guys click, and I think it's been a big part of what we've been this year as a staff. When someone goes out and struggles, we know what's going on right away and we're able to help each other. That's not going to change just because we're in the playoffs now, it's the same way. We're a tight-knit group and we're only there to help each other.
Q. You open the season against Jon Lester and Justin Verlander in your second start, big crowds, Opening Day. How is this different when you take the mound, full house, against another Number 1 starter?
CHRIS TILLMAN: You know what? I think the only difference is the stakes are higher. I take every game the same way, they're all important. There is not one that's less important than the other. As a player, I think between the lines, that's where we're comfortable.
So once the game starts and the bell rings, that's where we're comfortable as a team and as a unit. Might have extra feelings before the game, be nervous, but if you're not nervous, you need to find another job, really.
Q. This Tigers' lineup has taken advantage of left-handed pitchers this year. So how does that affect your game plan and heading into the backup when you have lefties out of the pen?
CHRIS TILLMAN: They got a good lineup, two of the best hitters on the planet and you gotta take that into account and put a game plan together. Once the light comes on, it just comes down to execution.
As you said, our bullpen has been solid all year long and righty, lefty, don't matter. I think we got a pretty solid bullpen, and as a starting staff, we have all the confidence in the world in them. They've been picking us up all year long, so nothing changes.
Q. What do you remember about the atmosphere here two years ago? You didn't get to pitch then. And coming out for Game 1 tomorrow, is there a time that you can soak it up or feed off of it for a second or is that something you tune out?
CHRIS TILLMAN: I think we'll notice it. Our fans are a big part of what we do here. They've been great all year.
In 2012, it was kind of a shock to me. I didn't know that existed here in Baltimore. Our fans really came out and showed their true colors. You hear all about them from the ex-players that we have had when Baltimore is going well, and we had Brooksy in the clubhouse talking to us and saying this is probably the most excited he's ever seen Baltimore.
So we're looking forward to it and I'm sure we'll have time to soak it in after, but tomorrow, once the lights comes on, it's game time.
Q. Chris, you've probably had four or five pitching coaches in your time in Baltimore including Rick Peterson and Mike Down in Norfolk. Could you talk about what you are as a finished product now and what Dave Wallace has meant to that evolution?
CHRIS TILLMAN: Yeah, we have had quite a few pitching coaches come through here and stop and making their stops at the minor league levels. They're all good in their own ways, I think. I probably spent the most time with Mike Griffin in Triple-A, we had three, four years together and he knows me inside and out, as well as Wally and Dom and Adair, and you kind of get tidbits from every one of them. That's a whole other puzzle, trying to work with these guys and they get to know you.
I think Dave Wallace has done a great job. He listens, he watches, and it's not always what he says, it's what he doesn't say. He let's you work through it. And if he sees something, then he will give you input.
But these guys have been there, done that, and they understand how pitchers work.
Q. Obviously any starting pitcher wants to go as deep into the game as possible, but as solid as your bullpen has been this year, how much does that help you when you get into later innings, knowing if you need to turn the ball over, they can pick up where you left off?
CHRIS TILLMAN: Our bullpen has been huge for us all year. We had, sometimes during the season when the starters weren't as good as we have been lately, and they stepped right up and did the job for us. I think they're ready for whatever the game brings.
And you know what, the bullpen has been solid. The leader out there is Darren O'Day, no doubt about it, and he keeps them in the right mind frame to come in at any point in the game.
Q. You talked about Brooks being here. Tell us what his message was speaking to the team and how nice it was to see him here at a big moment like this?
CHRIS TILLMAN: His main message to the team was how excited Baltimore is right now. He spent a lot of time here as a player and just being around the team. And his message was that he's excited to see how excited Baltimore is and to us, that's special. He's been there. He's been there for a World Series, for playoffs, and he said this is the most fans he's ever seen walking around the streets wearing their Baltimore Orioles jersey and proud of it.
That was his main message, and he threw in pieces and tidbits about how to handle the playoff atmosphere, and the World Series atmosphere, that he will be watching and he's excited for us.
Q. For those who have seen you grow into this role, where are you now, an Opening Day starter and a playoff starter? Can you talk about in what ways you've come along to become that guy and how important that responsibility is to you?
CHRIS TILLMAN: You know, it's important. The Game 1 is always important, get us going in the right direction. I think you learn something new every day. Something happens every game where you kinda step back and say, Well, I didn't know that could happen.
Or hearing Buck in the dugout, he's always giving us quizzes during the game, What do you think this guy is going to do here? Trying to prepare us for situations that may happen down the road.
Like I said, it's all puzzle. You're trying to put the pieces together. With the leaders that we have in this clubhouse, I think everyone knows what they are and they do a really good job with the younger guys and it's just fun to be around. Our clubhouse has great, great camaraderie, tight-knit group, and it's all come together because of them. They do a great job.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Chris.