When a team faces one of the best pitchers in baseball, it often means that there will be few chances to score runs, and a team has to capitalize on any mistake it gets. This is what the Baltimore Orioles faced Sunday in going up against Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals in Baltimore. Scherzer was unhittable for most of the game, giving up only two runs in 8.2 innings pitched, and unfortunately for Orioles start Wei-Yin Chen, it meant his team could not get him enough run support to win the game.
Chen was almost as good as Scherzer. He went eight innings, gave up eight hits, three runs (two earned) and struck out seven. While this was a great start and probably would have been enough on most days for the team that has scored the eighth-most runs in the MLB, it was not great enough to beat Scherzer, one of the leading Cy Young candidates in the National League thus far.
Chen’s only blemish was the fourth inning. He gave up a single to third baseman Yunel Escobar and then got two outs, but he was not able to get the third before the Nationals scored three runs in the inning. Left fielder Clint Robinson singled, and then designated hitter Dan Uggla singled in Escobar. Then first baseman Tyler Moore hit a double to right field, allowing both Robinson and Uggla to score.
Up until the fourth, Chen was doing well. The Orioles had jumped out 1-0 in the bottom of the first after center fielder Adam Jones homered, and after escaping runners on second and third with two outs in the first, Chen had a quick second and third, throwing only 19 pitches. After the fourth, Chen never faced much trouble again. He gave up a single in the fifth and the sixth, but he shut down most of the Nationals with ease.
But outside of the first-inning homer by Jones, the Orioles could not muster anything else against Scherzer until Jones hit another homer in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, prompting the Nationals to bring in closer Drew Storen to get the last out.
Despite the loss, Chen still has been pitching well since June. Over his last five starts he has gone eight innings three times, and he has not given up more than two earned runs since May 30. Although he has a 4-5 record, he still has the 17th best ERA in the league at 2.78. If he continues to pitch this well, the Orioles will just have to score a bit more in order for Chen to start getting more wins.
(Copyright 2015 Asia Times Holdings Limited, a duly registered Hong Kong company. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)