A loss but net gain for the Baltimore Orioles and Wei-Yin Chen
When the lineups for last night’s game were announced, fans of the Baltimore Orioles breathed a sigh of relief when they saw that Nick Markakis was starting in right field. Markakis of course had been out since last Tuesday’s division-clinching win over Toronto after being drilled in the back. However after taking batting practice and feeling good, manager Buck Showalter inserted Markakis into the lineup in yet another quasi-meaningless game for the Orioles – this time in New York.
Wei-Yin Chen didn’t have the polish on his pitches that he’s been known to use, but the fact is that he did all he could to put th
e O’s in a position to win the game.
Chen’s line: 6 IP, 6 H, 4 R (2 earned) 2 BB, 4 K. Ichiro Suzuki reached on a throwing error by Ryan Flaherty in the last of the third, and a Pirella RBI-triple gave NY a 1-0 lead. (It was Pirella’s first career at-bat, and thus his first career hit.) Pirella would later score on a fielder’s choic-RBI by Derek Jeter.
Jeter would notch a two-RBI single in the fifth to run NY’s lead to 4-0, and they would open that lead up to 5-0 with a Chase Headley homer in the last of the eighth. Unfortunately for the Birds, New York starter Michael Pineda held them to one hit – for the entire game. By my count that’s the third time this season the O’s have been one-hit. Is that a cause for concern offensively as this team moves forward into the post season?
The answer to that question is unknown at this time. The fact is that they ran into a guy last night who pitched almost unhittable baseball. So given the fact that big time players step up big in the post season, perhaps there is a cause for some concern. Furthermore as the weather starts to get chillier again (especially at night) the odds start to favor pitchers a bit more.
Having said that, keep in mind that MLB is very much a day-to-day type of league. On Saturday night this Orioles team put up eight runs on Boston. They’ve also come up big all year in big spots. So again, this is a day-to-day league – in that games unfold differently day-to-day. Tomorrow the Birds might explode offensively for all we know.
The good news is that the Orioles ended up with a net gain in this game, as a Detroit loss clinched the #2 seed in the American League. The Baltimore Orioles are still in play for the top spot, however they can finish with no worse than the second best record in the AL. This was a big point for Buck Showalter in the immediate aftermath of clinching the division, as he wanted to ensure that at the very least the likes of Detroit or Kansas City didn’t overtake the Orioles. That’s no longer a worry.
Ubaldo Jimenez will get the start tonight in game two of this series for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Brandon McCarthy. Game time is set for just after 7 PM. Buck Showalter announced before the game that the O’s would use four starters in the ALDS, which came as a bit of a surprise to most of us. Usually teams will put three starters on the roster for five-game series’, however Showalter has his reasons for doing what he does. My bet is that those four starters will be (in no particular order) Chris Tillma, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, and Bud Norris.