Chris Tillman has taken on the role of staff ace for the Baltimore Orioles and further showcased his No. 1 potential with a strong outing to open the season.
He'll make his second start Sunday in the series finale with the Toronto Blue Jays, who were quieted in the middle game after an explosive performance in the opener.
The Orioles (3-2) were shelled 12-5 by the Blue Jays (3-2) on Friday but rebounded with a dominant 7-1 win the next day. They smashed three home runs, capped by Jonathan Schoop's grand slam in the fifth inning, and got seven innings of one-hit ball from Ubaldo Jiminez before Zach Britton gave up a pair of hits in the ninth.
Baltimore was shut out by Tampa Bay on Wednesday but has scored 24 runs over its other four contests to continue the club's pace from last season, when it finished eighth in MLB in runs scored.
That type of production will be more than welcomed by Tillman (1-0, 1.35 ERA), who enjoyed the ninth-best run support in baseball over the last two seasons (5.18 per game). The right-hander carried his weight with a 3.52 ERA and 29 wins in that span.
He carried that 2014 momentum into a 6-2 win over the Rays on Monday, allowing one run and four hits through 6 2-3 innings with four strikeouts and three walks.
Manager Buck Showalter has seen enough to slot him atop Baltimore's rotation.
"This guy is a perfectionist, he will critique himself. He'll probably talk about some walks ... but he's got great presence," Showalter told the Orioles' official website following Monday's win. "You know he's capable of handling that situation. Proud of him."
Drew Hutchinson (1-0, 1.50) will take the hill for Toronto looking to provide a quality start after Aaron Sanchez went only 3 1-3 innings in Saturday's defeat.
Like Tillman, Hutchinson also pitched well in his season debut, limiting the New York Yankees to only three hits and one run through six innings in Monday's 6-1 win.
Hutchinson has also had mostly good results against Baltimore in his career.
The 24-year-old right-hander allowed six runs through 6 1-3 innings in a loss to the Orioles on Sept. 16, but bounced back with a win against the division rivals on Sept 26. He is 4-1 with a 2.29 ERA in eight all-time starts against them.
Hutchinson, who finished eighth in the AL with 8.97 strikeouts per nine innings last season, has primarily found success through commanding the zone - a trait he showcased to first-time battery-mate Russell Martin against New York.
"We did a good job establishing the fastball," Martin told the Blue Jays' website of Hutchinson's opening performance. "When you're pounding the strike zone, you're making the guy swing early in the count. That induces contact, and he did a good job of just mixing in everything. Just the constant mix of pitches, being not predictable."
Martin is 0 for 11 since singling in his second at-bat of the season, while centerfielder Dalton Pompey is hitting just .111 (2 for 18) through five games.
Jose Reyes (oblique) and Jose Bautista (leg cramps) are active, but have been dealing with minor injuries. They were both replaced late in Saturday's loss.