video thumbnail

BOS@BAL: Chen throws seven innings of four-hit ball

BALTIMORE -- The plan never was going to be to let Wei-Yin Chen pitch a complete game Wednesday night, but through seven innings, it seemed inevitable that he'd get to take one of the best starts of his young career into the eighth.

The lefty battled the Red Sox through the rain until "the god of weather" brought upon a 98-minute delay and forced the Orioles starter out of the game in the seventh inning.

"Of course I wanted to pitch one more inning if I had the chance," Chen said through a translator. "I don't know. Maybe the god of weather doesn't really like me."

Until then, Chen (7-2) had been nearly perfect. He allowed just four hits in seven innings and faced just one batter over the minimum. By the time he did leave, he had done more than enough for Baltimore to beat Boston, 6-0, in the rubber game of a three-game series at Camden Yards.

Behind Chen, the O's defense was nearly as good and the offense put up all the runs it needed in the opening frame. He induced three inning-ending double plays to negate the few hits he allowed and Chris Davis belted his 10th home run -- a two-run shot -- to give Baltimore a three-run cushion after one.

With that cushion, Chen was able to attack the zone. The starter didn't walk any batters and set a new season high with seven strikeouts -- five of which came in the first three innings and all seven of which came swinging.

Just moments after Chen left the mound in the seventh with 87 pitches under his belt, the umpires called for a delay. More than an hour passed and the crowd of 25,886 thinned. The next time the O's took the field on defense, it was behind reliever Darren O'Day.

In the two innings after the rain delay, the Sox managed just one more baserunner.

"I always like that first out after the rain delay because there's such a chance to have that momentum switch after that long delay," Buck Showalter said. "But our guys came out ready to go."

The Orioles manager said he planned on having Zach Britton pitch no matter the score, but Chen was definitely on track to come back out for the eighth inning before the delay.

Baltimore's pitching has been its weakness for much of the season, but against the Red Sox it was the strength. The O's allowed just one run in 27 innings, marking the first time since 1981 that Boston been held to one run or fewer in a three-game series.

"One run in 27 innings is extremely difficult," Sox manager John Farrell said. "You credit their pitching. You credit inning-ending double plays three times tonight."

Perhaps an even bigger surprise than the pitching staff allowing just one run in three games is that the Orioles managed to lose one of those games. Baltimore got solid offensive performances in Games 1 and 3, but didn't score Tuesday.

A day later, the bats awoke.

Showalter tweaked his lineup before Wednesday's game, dropping slumping third baseman Manny Machado to the No. 7 spot and moving Steve Pearce up to the two-hole.

The move immediately paid off. Pearce drew a walk from Red Sox starter Rubby De La Rosa (1-2) in the first and Adam Jones followed it up with an RBI double to the left-field corner.

Two batters later, Davis homered to give the O's a 3-0 lead in the blink of an eye.

"I feel like I've been seeing the ball well -- with the exception of [Tuesday] night -- for a while," Davis said. "I haven't been able to put everything together; my swing just hasn't felt right."

Davis said he took the field early before Wednesday's game to work on some things that had helped him in the past. He was rewarded with the first-inning homer, a flyout to the deepest part of the park in the fourth and a double in the eighth to help the Orioles pad their lead.

By then, Chen was long gone. But it was his pitching -- and Baltimore's pitching during the previous two days -- that left the biggest impression during a rainy series at Camden Yards.

"I'd be the first to say I think we kind of caught Boston not swinging the bats as well as they're capable of, but I'm impressed with the way our guys pitched," Showalter said. "All of them." Comments