Wei-Yin Chen has turned into the latest version of former Oriole Jeremy Guthrie in that he’s getting no run support when he pitches. Chen had one bad inning in last night’s 3-0 loss to New York on Sunday Night Baseball, yet he still managed to turn in a quality start for the Baltimore Orioles. However the fact is that you can’t get less run support than zero, and in fact you have a 0% chance of winning the game if you don’t score any runs. The O’s only managed to get a runner past first base on one occasion, and that was in the ninth inning (on an error).
They say that good pitching will always shut down good hitting, and that’s what happened in last night’s game. NY starter Hiroki Kuroda pitched an absolute gem. He wasn’t overpowering, yet he employed late movement that kept the Oriole hitters guessing. For the most part, Chen matched him pitch for pitch, save for the fifth inning. Chen’s line: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 2 K. New York is a team that takes a lot of pitches, which is why Chen had 92 pitches thrown after six innings; the O’s swung at a lot of first pitches and made outs, which is why Kuroda pitched the full game and registered 113 pitches. The two stats that stick out at me on Chen’s line are the one walk and two strikeouts. Most people would look at that and say that only one walk is great but only two K’s isn’t so hot. However the fact is that Chen’s a fly ball pitcher, which granted poses it’s own set of issues as it is. However for the most part he was recording outs with those fly balls, and in theory that’s going to cut down on the number of pitches thrown. (In this case Chen was already deep in the count when the pop flies were hit.)
With New York already having a run home in the last of the fifth on a sac fly, Brett Gardener sent a deep shot towards the right field foul pole. Of course the last time the Orioles were at Yankee Stadium (the 2012 ALDS) there was some controversy with that foul pole, as Nate McLouth‘s shot was ruled foul. Television replays were inconclusive, however on a close up shot from TBS it did appear that the ball changed trajectory just a slight bit when it brushed by the foul pole. However Gardener left no doubt in the interpretation of anything, as his shot hit squarely off the pole for a two-run home run. I suppose that one might argue why not hit it solidly off the pole and not leave anything to interpretation as opposed to making it so that you can’t see with the naked eye if it hit or not.
I would say that was the ballgame, but it really wasn’t; the game was over in a sense when New York scored on the sac fly. That’s what happens when you don’t score any runs; the other team only needs one. However I would submit that a huge bright spot for the O’s in this game was reliever T.J. McFarland. McFarland pitched two innings of relief and gave up only one hit, one walk, and struck out three. McFarland also saved other arms from being summoned from the pen, giving the other guys some time off. The Orioles of course are off today and they begin a three-game set with Tampa at home on Tuesday, so everyone in the bullpen should be rested and ready to go at that time.