Chris Tillman’s Start
Tides starter Chris Tillman was the winning pitcher in last night’s 8-5 Tides win over struggling Durham. A superficial look at his pitching line — 5 1/3 innings pitched, 8 hits, 4 runs (all earned), 2 walks, 7 strikeouts, and 1 home run allowed — makes it seem as though Tillman struggled and was bailed out by his teammates’ offense. Yes, he struck out seven, but he gave up a home run and allowed nine other baserunners in less than six innings. In fact, although his line could have been a little bit worse, he really did pitch better than his final numbers because three of the runs he gave up were fluky.
First, the bad news — Tillman could and probably should have given up a fifth run. In the sixth inning, Tillman walked Juan Miranda. Miranda advanced to second on a ground out, after which Oscar Villareal relieved him. Villareal wild-pitched Miranda to third while walking Kyle Hudson. Will Rhymes then hit a sharp ground ball down the first-base line. Tides first baseman Joe Mahoney speared the grounder, stepped on first to retire Miranda, and then threw home where Luis Exposito tagged Miranda out. Mahoney showed good presence of mind there, as the more expected play would be to throw to second. But Kyle Hudson is much faster than Miranda, and likely would have beaten the throw. By throwing home, Mahoney prevented a fifth run from being charged to Tillman.
On the other hand, the three runs Tillman gave up in the fourth inning were hardly his fault. Leslie Anderson led off the inning by lifting a fly to right field that right field Jai Miller either didn’t see or completely misplayed; that normally routine fly ball fell untouched for a double. Anderson scored on two groundouts; with 5-1 lead at the time, it made perfect sense to let Anderson advance. Then, speedy Kyle Hudson beat out an infield grounder, and Will Rhymes stroked a hard fliner about 320 feet down the right-field line. Unfortunately for Tillman and the Tides, the right-field fence is 318 feet down the right-field foul line, and so Rhymes’ hit — which would either have curled foul or maybe hit the wall if the outfield wall were at a more normal distance — went for a two-run home run.
I’m sure many fans who weren’t at the game will look at Tillman’s line above and conclude that he’s still the same old struggling Chris Tillman. But if his line had been 5 1/3 innings pitched, 6 hits, 2 runs (both earned), 2 walks, and seven strikeouts — a more appropriate summary of how Tillman actually pitched — they’d think differently. His actual game score was 42 — below standard. His projected game score would have been 54 — above standard.