A lot of the talk Sunday was about Wei-Yin Chen picking up 12 strikeouts in the win over Oakland. But the bigger accomplishment for me was simply that Chen pitched the Orioles to a big win, strikeouts or no strikeouts.
The Orioles needed to avoid getting swept and Chen gave up just one run (unearned) over 5 2/3 innings against an Oakland team that had scored 40 runs in its previous four games and was 18-3 in its last 21 games. It was a big game and Chen came through with a big effort.
He has done this before at times this year:
May 10, Game 1 of a doubleheader vs. Texas: Chen did a brilliant job against the hot-hitting Rangers, who had scored 14 and 10 runs in the first two games of this series in Baltimore. He pitched 7 2/3 innings, allowing six hits and two runs. He did this against a Texas team that had won seven in a row against the Orioles, scoring 70 runs in that time.
May 15 vs. the Yankees: Chen gets the win over New York and CC Sabathia, allowing just two runs over seven innings. Over a six-day stretch, Chen went 2-0 with an ERA of 1.84 against the Rangers and Yankees.
July 3 at Seattle: Chen took a perfect game into the seventh inning as the Orioles beat the Mariners. The team entered this game with six losses in its previous seven games and Chen helped them get back in the win column.
Chen has clearly showed that he has a real plan when he takes the mound and that he is a polished pitcher. In Chen, the Orioles got the rare combination of a young, yet experienced pitcher. He just turned 27, yet he has made more than 100 appearances in Japan and has pitched in several big games there.
Chen has a real toughness to him and he keeps his poise out there. The good news is that the Orioles have him signed through 2014 with a club option for 2015. He should be a key piece for their rotation for a few seasons to come.
Now the Orioles head to Yankee Stadium tonight for an important three-game series. The Orioles are 3-5 against the Yankees on the season, but after losing their first four games in the season series, are 3-1 in the last four.
In the Orioles' only other series at Yankee Stadium this season, they lost the first game 2-1 and then won the next two games on May 1 and 2 by scores of 7-1 and 5-0.
Those was impressive back-to-back victories led by Brian Matusz and Jake Arrieta, who combined to give up just one earned run over 14 1/3 innings.
Matusz and Arrieta can't help the O's in New York this time, but how do you think the Orioles will fare in this series in the Bronx?