The Baltimore Orioles led for most of yesterday’s game in New York, however as many of their opponents have found out this year it’s not for how long you lead it’s more about who has the lead at the end of the 9th inning. Wei-Yin Chen pitched another good game against a quality opponent. One thing I’ve noticed about Chen is that he seems to tire out of the blue. He’ll be plugging along and suddenly he seems to lose his wherewithal and you find yourself asking for more cowbell! If anything, Buck Showalter and Rick Adair might need to monitor Chen a little more closely in the later innings of his starts because Chen pitched a solid outing yesterday and his tiring arm gave up on him towards the end.
The Orioles took an almost immediate 1-0 lead after Nick Markakis went to third base on a hit-and-run that was perfectly executed by J.J. Hardy, and Nate McClouth grounded into a double play. Manny Machado plated Chris Davis in the second, and Matt Wieters led off the fourth by sending a 2-2 pitch over the wall in left. However as efficient as the Orioles were on Friday with regard to adding runs on, they just couldn’t do it yesterday. The Birds went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Once all was said and done with in the game, had the Orioles plated even one more of those potential runs the game would have been tied after nine innings (all other things being equal).
Chen’s final line: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R (3 earned), 2 BB, 4 K. Chen didn’t bring his absolute best stuff, but he pitched a solid game and in my opinion he should have won. Until the 7th inning Chen made one bad pitch in hanging a breaking ball to Robinson Cano in the fourth inning which led to a solo home run. Chen exited the game in the seventh with one already in, two out, and runners at the corners. Following a walk by Ichiro, Derek Jeter took Pedro Strop to a full count before walking on a pitch that was ruled inside but that Strop clearly felt was borderline at best. With the game tied and the bases still loaded, Nick Swisher hit a liner towards J.J. Hardy. I suppose that Hardy wasn’t expecting the ball to come in like a slider, and it ducked just prior to getting to the shortstop (causing him to misplay it). The error scored the go-ahead run for New York, ultimately giving them a 4-3 win over the Birds.
Many Orioles fans took this loss fairly hard, however the O’s are still in a good position to take the series this afternoon if they can win. In no way am I suggesting above that Chen tends to fall apart in games, I’m just saying that I’ve noticed he seems to tire in an impromptu manner in games. That’s something that I’ve noticed about a lot of pitchers coming out of the Japanese league, and to Chen’s credit it seems to happen to him later in games than it does most. WHen Koji Uehara first came to the O’s sometimes he’d hit that 5th inning and start to lose steam. In some games Chen can go deeper than others, but seven innings seems to be his magic number. (I’ve said this before, but it’s worth noting that pitchers in the Japanese league pitch once every seven days as opposed to five.)
The Orioles will try to take the series in NY this afternoon at Yankee Stadium, in a game that will be seen both on MASN as well as nationally on TBS. Chris Tillman will try to continue his dominance over opposing batters, as well as try to replicate the final four innings of work he produced in July at Yankee Stadium. Tillman was 3-1 with a 3.73 ERA in August, and he only allowed one hit in his last start against Chicago. He’ll be opposed by Phil Hughes of New York, who’s 13-11 on the year. If the Orioles can win today they’ll have picked up a full game on New York in the standings over the weekend as they head north of the border for three in Toronto after the game this afternoon.