Tillman encouraged despite number of walks

Tillman encouraged despite number of walks

BALTIMORE -- Fixed? Not quite.

While the O's hope of vintage Chris Tillman appearing didn't transpire, the struggling righty -- making his first start since being demoted to the bullpen -- was still encouraged with parts of his outing in Baltimore's 5-4 loss to the Angels on Sunday afternoon.

"Probably should have been much better," Tillman said of his overall performance over 5 1/3 innings. "You cut the [six] walks in half that's a different ball game. That's just too many. Too many to try to pitch out of. You can't expect to win a game walking that many.

"Other than that, I thought it was OK. Made some good offspeed pitches, fastball was a little better. I still think it was a step in the right direction, minus the walks."

Making his first start since Aug. 3, Tillman allowed four runs on four hits and six walks in his longest outing since July 22. He gave up home runs to Kole Calhoun and Andrelton Simmons, who had a one-out, two-run homer in the sixth. Tillman exited after he walked the following batter, Luis Valbuena

"Stuff, I thought, was better. A semi-step [forward]," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Tillman. "We'll see. A lot depends on where he goes from here. But you take away the slider that Simmons hooked down there in the corner, wasn't bad."

Showalter on 5-4 loss at home

Tillman has never quite found his footing since starting the season on the disabled list and missing the season's first month. After going just two innings in the Aug. 3 start against Detroit -- which extended his losing streak to seven -- he was put in the bullpen and made two scoreless relief appearances. In the interim, he worked with pitching coach Roger McDowell on refining some things.

Sometimes it showed up on Sunday, sometimes it didn't.

"There were random spots here and there where it kind of got away," said Tillman, who has a 7.75 ERA in 18 games (16 starts). "But it's to the point now where I feel it, I can get out of it for a little bit, get back on track, get back out of it, fight back in."

Tillman will get another chance to make those adjustments stick as Showalter confirmed he'd make another start. The team re-inserted Tillman into the rotation to go to a six-man staff, helping give extra rest to guys like Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman down the stretch.

"The walks I'm sure he'd like to have back," Showalter said. "There were some pitches that were just balls out of his hand. There's not really anything competitive you can get back with those pitches. Better than his last outing, and hopefully he'll build on it. I talked to him in the dugout. Felt pretty good. I'm looking forward to seeing him pitch again and see if he can go to another level that we all know he's capable of."

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.