BALTIMORE -- Prior to the start of Friday's doubleheader, Orioles manager Buck Showalter explained his reasoning in flipping pitchers Jeremy Guthrie and Chris Tillman: he didn't want the 22-year-old Tillman waiting around.
Several hours later, Tillman wasted no time putting away the Tigers, tossing one of his best starts this season in his final outing of 2010. Tillman notched a season-high seven strikeouts, firing seven one-run innings and enjoying an offensive onslaught, led by Adam Jones' four RBIs, that allowed the O's to cruise to a 10-6 series-opening win in Game 1.
Tillman said pitching coach Rick Kranitz told him to use the cutter -- a new pitch he's been working on since the spring -- as his put-away pitch, and the move paid off to the tune of seven strikeouts.
It's was the kind of outing the Orioles hope to see more of, as Tillman will look to this offseason and try to gain more consistency heading into next spring.
"Those good [starts] you feel bad, those bad ones you are kind of down low," said Tillman. "The key is to stay consistent. Stay even keeled -- not get too high, not get too low."
The victory also improved Baltimore to 32-22 under Showalter and marked the 14th time in 18 series under Showalter that the O's have won the opening contest.
"Chris was outstanding," said Showalter. "I'll tell you, the cutter was a really good pitch for him. Liked the way he gave up the home run early and responded. You really like to see shutdown innings after the runs we scored, too. That's a sign of maturity as he goes forward."
Tillman -- who fell victim to Don Kelly's solo homer in the second -- was staked to a five-run lead after the Orioles batted around in the fourth, plating a half-dozen runs on Tigers starter Jeremy Bonderman. A free agent to be making what could be his final start in Detroit, the Orioles made sure Bonderman wouldn't reflect on Friday fondly.
Instead, Bonderman walked off the mound muttering, as the Orioles lit him up to the tune of a season-high nine runs over 4 1/3 innings. It was the most runs scored under Bonderman's watch since his second start of the season on April 16, although only eight of the Mariners' 10 runs were charged to the veteran right-hander.
Corey Patterson legged out an infield single to start a six-run fourth that included Jones' three-run double and Craig Tatum's two-base hit that plated another pair of runs. The O's offense kept it rolling in the fifth, courtesy of Felix Pie's one-out triple that bounced off the LCD monitor and scored Nick Markakis and Luke Scott. Pie's hit also spelled the end of Bonderman's outing, as Tigers manager Jim Leyland promptly inserted Eddie Bonine, who recorded the next five outs.
"I think getting the bunt hit by [Patterson], I look back on it as kind of getting everything moving a little bit," said Showalter. "He's been pretty solid for us coming off the bench and giving us a little juice."
It was more than enough support for Tillman, who held the Tigers to just two hits outside of Kelly's blast, but the Orioles would need all those runs to hold off Detroit.
Reliever Mark Hendrickson struggled following Tillman, allowing three hits and two walks and recording just one out in a four-run outing that caused Showalter to summon Matt Albers with the bases loaded in the eighth. Albers allowed a single to Brennan Boesch, but was able to escape any further damage, striking out Scott Sizemore to end the inning.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.