Tillman's time again

Chris Tillman competed for the job as the Orioles' fifth starter. Then he became the No. 3 starter. Then he became the No. 2 starter.

Tonight, he's being asked to serve as the stopper.

The Orioles already have a pitching coach, so that job is out, but it's been an interesting progression for the young right-hander.

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The club is coming off its first deficit of the 2011 season, followed by its first loss. Perfection is out of reach - something I learned at a very early age.

Tillman is 1-0 with a 3.20 ERA in three career appearances against the Tigers. He's allowed 11 hits, walked 11 and struck out 16 in 19 2/3 innings. Control has been an issue, but the Tigers are batting .159 against him.

Make them put the ball in play.

Miguel Cabrera is 2-for-6 with a double, home run and three RBIs. But it's good to know that Alex Avila is 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. He had one RBI going into last night's game, and drove in five runs.

The Orioles were fortunate to get three innings out of Josh Rupe last night, though they could have done without the back-to-back home runs. As manager Buck Showalter pointed out, the bullpen becomes a greater concern when you've got young starters also going back-to-back, and he only got 3 2/3 innings out of Brad Bergesen.

Tillman threw six hitless innings Saturday against the Rays. Showalter will gladly take six more innings tonight. Hitless would be a bonus.

The media will get its first look at Jeremy Guthrie since he was hospitalized with pneumonia. He'll play catch again today.

I find it interesting that he doesn't consider a bullpen session to be a necessity if he's going to make Sunday's start against the Rangers.

Chris Jakubauskas is the logical candidate to replace Guthrie if a change is needed, since he'd be working on normal rest. He's appeared in 36 major league games, making nine starts. Unfortunately, he was limited to one last year with the Pirates.

Jakubauskas was hit in the head by a Lance Berkman line drive in the first inning of an April 24 start against the Astros. The Orioles signed him to a minor league deal over the winter that didn't include a spring training invite, but he still logged 6 1/3 scoreless innings, with one walk and seven strikeouts.

What hurts more, being hit by a batted ball or knowing you pitch for the Pirates?

It's a trick question. They're equally painful.

Jakubauskas looked like one of the more popular guys in the clubhouse in spring training. He was always at someone else's locker, and often played ping pong or provided commentary.

The Orioles have a ping pong table in their clubhouse at Camden Yards. Maybe they'll also have Jakubauskas.

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