Wei-Yin Chen pitched a great game for the Baltimore Orioles last night. Chen’s line: 7.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 3 K. However it might be fair to ask whether manager Buck Showalter left Chen in the game for just a bit too long. With the O’s leading 3-1 in the 8th, Eric Hosmer‘s two-run homer tied the game at two. f the result itself is any indication, then yes I suppose that Showalter should have pulled him earlier. However there was no real indication that Chen was starting to tire. While it’s easy to say that perhaps Showalter should have someone waiting in the pen in the later innings, you also don’t want someone warming in the bullpen that ultimately never comes in. I presume that Chen probably said he was fine, and unless he’s starting to struggle or leave balls up that’s all the manager can go on.
Hosmer hit two homers in the game, as he gave Kansas City a 1-0 lead in the second inning with a solo shot. Ironically, Hosmer also committed an error which allowed Adam Jones to reach base in the fourth. Matt Wieters followed later with a two-run homer, propelling the O’s into the lead at 2-1. The score remained 2-1 until the top of the eighth when Adam Jones grounded into a fielder’s choice-RBI that scored Brian Roberts and gave the Birds a 3-1 lead. Obviously with Hosmer’s theatrics in the last of the inning, that run was pretty big for the O’s.
Darren O’Day followed Chen into the game, and for the most part was effective. I was a bit surprised to see that O’Day was sent back out for the ninth inning, especially seeing that the Orioles’ bullpen seems to be fairly rested. Even in losing efforts last night and Tuesday, the O’s have used a sparing number of relievers. I suspect that’s what Showalter had in mind when he sent Chen back out for the eighth, and even O’Day for the ninth. Granted in O’Day’s case the lead off hitter in the ninth was a righty, and with Brian Matusz warming in the Orioles’ pen it didn’t make much sense to bring in a southpaw at that point. However with a runner on first in the ninth, Alex Escobar lifted a deep shot towards the outfield wall in left. For a moment it appeared that Nate McLouth was going to have a play; when he leaped to catch the ball, it hit off the outfield wall. Lough scored from first on Escobar’s double, and the Orioles had fallen to Kansas City 4-3.
Kansas City gave the Birds some problems last season as well, and even earlier this year at Camden Yards. Some teams just match up well against others. For years it seemed that team was the Texas Rangers that gave the Orioles fits. Having said that, one has to hope that the Birds aren’t looking past Kansas City to their big showdown with the BoSox this weekend. (The BoSox who of course are having their own problems this week with Tampa.) The good news is that most four-game series in MLB end up being 2-2 splits, and with a win in tonight’s series finale the Orioles can salvage just that. Miguel Gonzalez will get the start for the O’s tonight, and he’ll face off against former Oriole Jeremy Guthrie.