Orioles complete three-game sweep with 10-6 victory over Boston Red Sox

Club's magic number to clinch American League East drops to eight after fourth straight win

September 10, 2014|By Dan Connolly | The Baltimore Sun

BOSTON -- Left-hander Wei-Yin Chen once fell four outs away from throwing a perfect game while he was pitching in Japan, so it’s not like Wednesday’s brief flirtation with baseball history in the Orioles’ 10-6 win at Fenway Park was unchartered territory.

“It comes across your mind, but still a perfect game is very difficult to do,” Chen said through an interpreter after his perfect-game attempt was broken up with one out in the sixth. “I just tried to concentrate on each at-bat. And if I had it, I had it. If I don’t, it’s OK.”

Chen (15-4) settled for his 15th win of the year — tied for second most in the American League — while guiding the Orioles to their first sweep of the Red Sox in two years. He retired the first 16 batters he faced before Boston’s rookie catcher Dan Butler hit a liner off the Green Monster in left field for a double, his first major league hit.

“I tell you, I didn’t pick up on it until about the fifth. I was looking at some other things,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said about Chen’s stab at perfection. “There was that potential.”

At this point in the season, the Orioles (86-59) are content to pick up another victory and move another step closer to their first AL East title since 1997. Their magic number for clinching is down to eight with 17 left to play.

It’s becoming increasingly likely that the Orioles will secure the division crown during their upcoming, 10-game homestand that begins Friday with a doubleheader against the New York Yankees.

“I really don’t think the team really looks at that,” said shortstop Ryan Flaherty, who had a career-high four hits Wednesday. “There’s a chance every night to win, and we expect to win every night. Doesn’t matter what the circumstances are.”

Despite trailing by nine runs in the ninth, the Red Sox made a furious comeback, scoring five times against veteran left-hander Joe Saunders. Darren O’Day had to enter and record one out with two runners on base to gain his third save of the season.

“That’s one of things about our club, they never assume anything,” Showalter said. “They’re never going to drop their guard. They’re going to keep taking every opportunity.”

The Orioles never have been involved in a perfect game in their 60-year history and haven’t thrown a no-hitter since four pitchers combined for one at Oakland in 1991.

It still didn’t happen, but Chen gave it a shot against the last-place Red Sox (63-83). He allowed just three hits and one run — on Xander Bogaerts’ 11th homer of the season and second in two games — while striking out four batters.

“I was able to get ahead of the hitters. I think they got more aggressive than they should be,” said Chen, who threw 93 pitches before turning the ball over to Ryan Webb for a scoreless eighth. “That’s why I was able to be so efficient.”

With the way Chen was pitching, the Orioles’ offense didn’t need to do much.

But the club exploded for six runs in the third inning. Perhaps the most encouraging thing about the outburst is that the Orioles scored all of their runs in the third without hitting a homer.

Sending 11 batters to the plate, the Orioles strung together five singles, one double, two walks and an error by Boston third baseman Carlos Rivero. The only Orioles player who didn’t reach base in the inning was Jonathan Schoop, who made two of the club’s three outs.

The other out was on the base paths when Caleb Joseph didn’t realize Steve Pearce had held up at third base on a single and Joseph was thrown out trying to get back to second base.

Adam Jones had the only extra-base hit in the third inning, a two-run double. Pearce drove in a run by drawing a bases-loaded walk from Boston right-hander Brandon Workman (1-3), who gave up six runs (five earned) in three innings. Ten different Orioles scored runs, the first time the club has done that since Aug.1, 2008 at Seattle.

“We've got so many guys who can put the barrel on the ball. We got a lot of good two-strike hits today, a lot of guys battling,” Joseph said. “Late in the season, it's kind of easy after you've won two games to just kind of be content with that. But this group, I've never been part of a group that, as Jones would say, stays hungry to win every day. And that's a testament to the leadership that we have here.”

Joseph gave the Orioles two more runs on his ninth homer of the season in the fifth inning. The ball barely cleared the Green Monster in left field, bouncing back into the field of play. Confused, Joseph stopped running between first and second, and nearly returned to first base until he finally saw the umpire’s signal.

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