Wei-Yin Chen's strong start leads Orioles to 6-0 win over Red Sox on Wednesday


Left-hander pitches seven scoreless innings in series finale against Boston at Camden Yards

June 12, 2014|By Dan Connolly | The Baltimore Sun

Winning a series against the division rival Boston Red Sox, especially at home and when the defending World Series champions are struggling, has to be considered somewhat significant for the Orioles -- even in June.

What adds to the accomplishment, though, is how these searching-for-an-identity Orioles did it: With excellent starting pitching.

It’s nutty, but true.

In the Orioles’ 6-0 victory Wednesday night, Wei-Yin Chen became the third consecutive Orioles starter to go at least six innings and allow one run or fewer. The reigning champs scored just one run total in three games this week at Camden Yards -- with the Orioles winning two and losing the other, 1-0.

“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 the last three days,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “I was real pleased and proud of the way our guys pitched. All of them, the bullpen, too.”

It’s the first time the Orioles have allowed one total run or fewer over a three-game span since Aug. 4-6, 2012, and the first time they’ve done it at home in a three-game series since Kevin Brown, Ben McDonald and Mike Mussina recorded shutouts of the Detroit Tigers on Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, 1995.

The Orioles hadn’t limited the Red Sox offense in such a manner in a three-game series since Sept. 2-4, 1974, when Ross Grimsley, Mike Cuellar and Jim Palmer threw three consecutive shutouts -- 1-0, 1-0 and 6-0.

Throw Bud Norris (eight shutout innings), Chris Tillman (one run in six innings) and Wei-Yin Chen (seven scoreless innings) into that vaunted company for a moment. Not bad for a starting rotation that began Wednesday 11th in the American League in ERA with a combined 4.46 mark. And certainly surprising considering that, in the last game before the Boston series, Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez gave up six earned runs in just 2 1/3 innings in an 11-1 loss to the Oakland Athletics.

"It's been awesome. In spring training, this is what we were hopeful for,” Orioles first baseman Chris Davis said about the club’s starters versus Boston. “We knew that we had the guys, that we wanted them in, knew what they were capable of, but, that being said, when the season starts and the lights come on, you still have got to go out there and compete ... I've been proud of the way they've carried themselves, the way they've hung in there and given us a chance to win on any given night.”

Wednesday’s win marked the first time this season that the Orioles (33-31) have captured a rubber match at home in five tries; they’re just 3-7 total in those situations this season. It also put the second-place Orioles 4 1/2 games behind the AL East-leading Toronto Blue Jays, who come to Camden Yards on Thursday to start a four-game series.

The fourth-place Red Sox (29-36) have lost seven of their last nine games.

By the time Wednesday’s 1-hour, 38-minute rain delay had ended and play resumed in the bottom of the seventh, just before 11 p.m., only a fraction of the announced 25,886 remained. Most congregated in the first five rows between the foul poles, and their reactions resonated throughout the near empty stadium -- giving the last two innings the feel of a high school game.

“You can hear everything,” said Showalter, who poured himself a cup of coffee at 11 p.m. “There are certain things that are making [the remaining fans] talk louder than you usually do.”

Although he wasn’t around at the end, Chen (7-2) was the primary reason for Wednesday’s victory, the club’s fifth in 10 games against the Red Sox this season.

He was in control from the beginning, retiring the first 11 batters he faced before Dustin Pedroia ended the Taiwanese left-hander’s bid for a perfect game with two outs in the fourth.

Pedroia, who entered the night batting .500 (12-for-24) against Chen in his career, hit a liner that bounced just before the warning track in right. Nick Markakis grabbed the carom off the wall and threw perfectly to shortstop J.J. Hardy, who tagged a sliding Pedroia at second.

That was the Orioles’ 12th outfield assist this season and a team-leading fourth by Markakis.

Chen kept rolling after that.

“Yeah, I did feel great out there pitching, and I was happy to have the team get a win,” Chen said through interpreter Louis Chao. “And, also, in the two [past] outings, I couldn’t go deep in the games, but today I was able to do that. So I am happy to do that -- especially that it was against the Red Sox. I gained a little confidence in this outing.”

He faced the minimum number of hitters -- 15 -- through five, and didn’t allow two base runners in the same inning until the sixth. He quickly wiped out that threat with one of his three inning-ending double plays.

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