After last week’s 14-5 win in New York combined with last night’s game, it appears that Wei-Yin Chen is going to be the pitcher for whom the Baltimore Orioles score runs this year. It seems that there’s often a guy who gets no run support, and one that gets them all; this year at least, Chen might be the latter of those two. It didn’t hurt that Chen pitched one of the best games since the 2012 season. Chen’s final line: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 K. Quite frankly, I think the last time I saw Chen pitch that well was when he almost no-hit the Atlanta Braves (2012).
Chen started out pitching from behind, however he retired Tampa 1-2-3 in the first inning after two ground outs and a flyout. Matt Wieters came to the plate in the last of the first for the Birds and hit a first-pitch-swinging RBI-single, scoring Chris Davis from second base. J.J. Hardy would score from third on Ryan Flaherty‘s infield single in the last of the second, and Nelson Cruz and Chris Davis would combine for back-to-back doubles to give the O’s a 3-0 lead after two. An inning later it was 5-0, as Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy doubled, and Steve Lombardozzi hit an infield RBI-single.
The key for Chen in this game was that he used all of his pitches, and he used them effectively.
Without having seen the pitch breakdown, I think we might have seen Chen use his changeup more than ever in the past. It was similar to how we saw Tillman progress last year and in the second half of 2012; part of what made Tillman into such a great pitcher at that time was the ability to drop in an off-speed pitch or perhaps a slider and get it over for a strike. That’s what Chen was able to do with ferocity last night, and what he’ll want to replicate moving into the future.
Chen didn’t allow a base runner until the fourth inning when Desmond Jennings walked and it wasn’t until the fifth, when James Loney doubled, that Chen allowed a hit. Tampa’s lone run would score in the sixth when Evan Longoria‘s RBI-single scored Ben Zobrist. Ryan Flaherty also put one across in the last of the fifth when his RBI-single scored Matt Wieters.
When the smoke cleared after nine innings, the O’s had defeated their division rival 7-1 in game one of three. Tampa came into the series playing fairly poorly after being handled in Cincinnati over the weekend. However Tampa starter Chris Archer wasn’t fooling any of the Oriole hitters from the get-go. The O’s tagged Archer hard from the beginning of the game, and for the most part they took advantage of the base runners they had. Wei-Yin Chen becomes the first pitcher not named Chris Tillman to really pitch a gem. Miguel Gonzalez pitched well in NY last week, but Chen was in another time zone last night with how he pitched. Worth mentioning: the bottom three spots in the Orioles’ order (7, 8, and 0) were a combined 7-for-12. When you can get that kind of production from the bottom of the order, odds of losing are slim.
Speaking of Miguel Gonzalez, he’ll get the starting nod in tonight’s game two of the series with Tampa. Gonzalez will be opposed by Tampa’s Jacob Odorizzi,