The Baltimore Orioles right-hander will finally get that chance in Thursday night’s series opener.
Acquired from Seattle in the 2008 Erik Bedard deal that brought Adam Jones to Baltimore, Tillman (1-1, 4.73 ERA) needed four career starts to earn his first major league victory, a 16-6 win over the Angels on Aug. 14, 2009.
The right-hander, a former standout at Fountain Valley High School - the same school Angels starter C.J. Wilson attended - nearly made his first professional start in Anaheim during the Orioles’ second visit last season from July 5-8. Tillman, though, was sent down the day before that series after a one-day call-up resulted in him picking up a victory in Seattle in his first appearance of the season.
Tillman, who earned his first win of the season with six strong innings in Saturday’s 7-3 victory over Oakland, will now try to help the Orioles (16-12) bounce back after dropping two of three in Seattle.
Baltimore, an 8-3 loser on Wednesday, is 1-3 since opening a season-high 11-game trip with three victories.
The Angels (10-17), meanwhile, are back in town after Wednesday’s 5-4 victory over the A’s ended a 2-5 trip and a four-game skid.
“A win’s a win,” right fielder Mark Trumbo said. “It was probably more of a nail-biter than we would have liked.”
Angels manager Mike Scioscia likes what he’s seeing from Trumbo, who could match a career high by homering in four straight.
“Trum is definitely finding his comfort level in the box,” Scioscia said.
Trumbo’s three homers led the Angels as they took seven of nine from the Orioles last season, but he’s gone deep just once in 50 home at-bats.
The Angels, despite their struggles, have won six of their last eight in Anaheim. Continuing that run, and the staff’s 22-inning scoreless streak at home against Baltimore, could be difficult with Joe Blanton (0-4, 7.09) taking the ball on Thursday. Los Angeles hasn’t won any of his five starts after he surrendered all of the runs in Saturday’s 3-2 loss at Seattle.
“Everything is just a little off right now,” said Blanton, who walked a season-high four. “… It needs to be cleaned up.”
Heading home might help former MVP Josh Hamilton find his hitting stroke, as he’s batting .298 in Anaheim compared to .154 on the road. Hamilton, a .342 career hitter off Orioles pitching before going 0 for 4 in the winner-take-all wild-card loss to Baltimore on Oct. 5, has no hits and three strikeouts in six at-bats versus Tillman.
Third baseman Manny Machado might be an even tougher out. He’s batting .419 (18 for 43) during a team-best 10-game hitting streak and homered and doubled in Wednesday’s loss.
The Orioles have won two of 10 in Anaheim since 2011.