KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals had just been shut out by Chris Tillman of the Baltimore Orioles, one night after scoring a single run in a similarly frustrating loss, and manager Ned Yost was trying to remain optimistic.
“Offenses heat up, cool off. Right now we don’t have anybody where I can sit back and say, ‘This boy is really swinging the bat well right now.’ But again, it turns like that,” Yost said, snapping his fingers. “It’s amazing how quickly it can turn.”
It had better turn soon.
Kansas City only managed five hits off Tillman in its latest offensive dud, a 4-0 loss Friday night. The Royals never got a runner past second base, and never strung together more than one hit in an inning against a pitcher who had been struggling coming into the game.
“Plate discipline is not helping us right now. I don’t think we centered up anything off Tillman,” Yost said. “He did a great job of keeping the ball down, pitching ahead in the count. He had enough movement on his fastball and his slider, so we couldn’t center anything up.
“He was ahead in the count all night long. He made very few mistakes. We just could never get anything going off of him. That was a pretty good start by him.”
Make that two nights in a row that the Royals couldn’t get anything going. Wei-Yin Chen and four relievers combined to hold them down in a 2-1 defeat in Thursday’s series opener.
The inept offense squandered a solid start by Jeremy Guthrie (2-3), who went eight innings against his former team. He allowed four runs, eight hits and a walk while striking out two.
Guthrie also managed to save a bullpen that had been chewed up the previous night, even while falling to 0-3 with four no-decisions in his last seven starts.
“I didn’t really give us a chance to win,” he said.
Meanwhile, Tillman lasted more than six innings for the first time since April 11, a span of five starts, for his first career shutout. The right-hander won for the first time in four starts this month.
“I’ll take more of them,” he said of the shutout, “but that’s not my goal.”
The game was played in a brisk 2 hours, 22 minutes, mostly because the starters were so effective. Tillman retired 13 of 14 batters after giving up a double to Norichika Aoki to start the game, and Guthrie only allowed a single by J.J. Hardy over the first three innings.
Baltimore finally got to Guthrie in the fourth, and it was partly his own doing.
Manny Machado led off by bunting back toward Guthrie, and he slipped while trying to field the ball. His hurried throw to first was wide of the bag for an error, and Machado trotted over to second base. Moments later, he headed for third when Guthrie threw a wild pitch.
Chris Davis walked to put runners on the corners for Cruz, whose single drove in the game’s first run. Steve Clevenger then grounded into a fielder’s choice to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead.
It remained that way until the sixth, when consecutive singles again put runners on the corners. Cruz then lofted a fly ball deep enough to center to bring home Adam Jones.
Davis added his third homer of the season with two outs in the eighth.
By that point, the only drama was whether Tillman would finish the game. The Orioles had two relievers up in the bullpen in the ninth, and the Royals got the leadoff man on base. But Tillman calmly got the next three batters to ground out to end the game.
“We talked to him between innings, like we always do. It was a lot of effort bu there was no real stressful innings for him,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “We had guys up and there was a point he was coming out of the game, but he was not going to be denied.”
NOTES: The Orioles recalled RHP Brad Brach from Triple-A Norfolk and designated RHP Evan Meek for assignment. … The Royals selected the contract of RHP Casey Coleman from Triple-A Omaha and designated OF Justin Maxwell for assignment. Coleman retired the side in the ninth. … Baltimore RHP Bud Norris is scheduled to start Saturday. LHP Danny Duffy will start for Kansas City.
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