With one of the storylines of Wei-Yin Chen’s season being the Baltimore Orioles’ inability to provide him with adequate run support, it came as a welcome surprise that the team scored the most runs it has in a game he’s started Friday night: eight. Unfortunately, Chen did not last long enough to benefit from the Orioles’ offensive explosion in the team’s 8-7 win over the Detroit Tigers at home.
From the start of the game it was apparent Chen was lacking in both the quality and control of his pitches. Left Fielder Rajai Davis led off with a double, and then two consecutive singles by shortstop Jose Iglesias and second baseman Ian Kinsler gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead. After escaping the inning thanks to a timely double play, Chen then gave up another run in the second after another single and double but escaped before more damage could be done.
What ultimately took Chen’s start from bad to worse were the three home runs he then gave up to the Tigers. Coming into the game, Chen had already given up 19 long balls, and since 2012, when he came into the league, he had given up the eighth most home runs: 88. The first one of the game came in the fourth off the bat of right fielder J.D. Martinez with Kinsler on first. Chen had Martinez in a 1-2 count with two outs, but he threw two straight balls and then Martinez took him deep into left field.
Then in the fourth he gave up back-to-back home runs to the first batter, catcher James McCann, and then to first baseman Jefry Marte. Showalter still left him in the game, and Chen then got center fielder Anthony Gose to pop up to catcher Matt Wieters. A single, though, the 10th hit Chen gave up, drove him from the game. His final line was 3.1 innings pitched, six runs, three home runs and 71 pitches. Pitch-wise, it was his shortest outing of the season, lower than his previous low he set last game, and at 3.1 innings it tied his shortest outing of his career from June 28 of last year vs. the Tampa Bay Rays.
It was definitely his worst start of the season. It was the most runs he has given up this season, and the most since giving up eight against the Boston Red Sox on August 27, 2013. It was also the first time he has given up three home runs in a game since that start against the Rays. The uncharacteristic bad command was the prime cause of his struggles.
“It’s probably his low point with his command this year,” Manager Buck Showalter said, according to The Baltimore Sun. “Matt [Wieters] was saying he hadn’t seen him that wild in the strike zone.”
The start raised Chen’s ERA from 2.88 to 3.24, but he did not suffer his seventh loss because the Orioles were able to score eight runs over the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to get their sixth win in seven games.
With the Orioles scoring 13 runs over Chen’s last two starts, if this is start is just an anomaly, then perhaps Chen will finally start to get more wins in the last two months of the seasons.
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