AFRO Sunday56

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

The Baltimore Orioles started the second half of the 2015 season exactly how they needed to, winning games while showing signs of improvement in areas of weakness. Baltimore won its first series following the midseason All-Star break, beating the Detroit Tigers in a three-game road set, 2-1, July 17-19 in Detroit. The series win helped lift the Orioles record above .500 at the time at 46-45. But more importantly, perhaps, it showed O’s fans that their team may be ready to pick up the pace through the rest of the summer.

Baltimore’s starting pitcher rotation has been one of the most inconsistent units on the team this season. Starters Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez weren’t pitching at their best during the first part of the season, but judging from how they both played this weekend, the two pitchers may finally be returning to the stellar form they displayed during last season’s Orioles success.

Tillman improved his starting pitching record to 7-7 this season after a knockout performance in Baltimore’s 3-0 win over the Tigers on July 18. Tillman allowed just one run with eight strikeouts thrown in an eight-inning shutout on the mound while closer Zach Britton earned his 24th save in the ninth.

Gonzalez was nearly as good in the series finale with Detroit on July 19, allowing just six hits and two runs with four strikeouts in a 9-2 win victory. Gonzalez did receive more help from the Orioles’ bullpen as relief pitcher Chaz Roe set up Brian Matusz with two shut-out innings for an easy closeout, but the tone was first set by a strong start from Gonzalez.

A lack of strong pitching starts, particularly from Tillman and Gonzalez, has been the one thing that has haunted Baltimore all year. But it wasn’t a problem in their start to the final stretch of the season. Both pitchers did their jobs and helped Baltimore set a mark for how they should win games, from here into October.