Wei-Yin Chen had allowed 19 runs in his last 3 outings coming in to his start Wednesday in Boston. 13 of those runs were earned, and he’d given them up in 16 innings, for a 7.31 ERA. Things were not going well for Chen, but his slump hadn’t even begun to approach the worst among the young Orioles starters this year. Still, that didn’t stop Chen from pitching like his life depended on it at Fenway.
The lefty scattered 7 hits, but walked no one and gave up just 1 earned run in 7 innings, leading the Orioles to their 2nd straight win over the Red Sox, 2-1.
The birds’ bats were stymied by Sox starter Josh Beckett, who held them scoreless through the first 5 innings. In the 6th, Wilson Betemit led off with a single, was moved to 3rd on Ryan Flaherty’s soft ground ball to right, and scored on Robert Andino’s soft liner down the right field line. Flaherty scored when Endy Chavez grounded into a force out, and the Orioles had all the runs they would get.
The combination of Chen, setup man Pedro Strop, and closer Jim Johnson would make those 2 runs stand, though. Strop ran into command issues, walking Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz back-to-back with 1-out in the 8th. But he retired Will Middlebrook on a fly ball to Adam Jones, and Scott Podsednik on a grounder to Mark Reynolds at first.
Johnson bounced back from last night’s first blown save of the season, retiring the Sox in order in the 9th for save number 18.
The Orioles send Brian Matusz to the mound Thursday night at 7:10 at Fenway, looking for the sweep. The Sox counter with Clay Buchholz.
- The defense was very solid behind Chen. Betemit made a pair of nice plays in the 2nd, leaning into the stands to catch a foul ball, and bare handing a slow tapper to nail Jarrod Saltalamacchia at first. Reynolds made a great diving catch of an Adrian Gonzalez liner in the 4th.
- Another hit & the game-winning RBI from Endy Chavez, who is starting to contribute at the plate.
- After a horrible start, the Orioles actually have a chance to make it a 4-5 road trip with a win in Boston Thursday.
- The Orioles are back in sole possession of first place in the AL East.
- Even after a sparkling defensive play, Reynolds showed that sometimes, his head just isn’t where it needs to be. Will Middlebrooks had strayed well off the bag at first by the time Reynolds grabbed Gonzalez’s liner. Reynolds had the chance for an unassisted double play, but forgot how many outs there were, and started trotting off the field.
- Don’t look now, but here come the Yankees. After another win over the Rays in New York, the Yanks are 31-24, just half a game behind the Orioles. Everyone in the AL East is .500 or better, with the Red Sox bringing up the rear at 28-28. The 5 teams are separated by just 4 games.