The Orioles got exactly what they needed tonight, something that will certainly bode well for the team as the baseball season heads down the stretch. In his first start in nearly two months, Wei-Yin Chen worked a strong seven innings, surrendering just a run on three hits. Chen even escaped a sixth-inning jam that almost saw the Rangers cut the O’s lead in half.
One of the main keys seemed to be Chen’s slider, which he worked effectively and kept out of the middle of the plate. Chen’s slider also helped him out on a beautiful called strike three to Jurickson Profar in the sixth. With the one exception being A.J. Pierzynski’s double, which just barely stayed in the ballpark, Rangers hitters were unable to get the barrel of the bat out on the slider. We’ve seen Chen been burned by his slider in the middle of the plate before, but he kept it down well tonight.
If tonight’s stellar performance was any clue, Chen seems to be in mid-season form. Despite the injury, he seems ready and able to help return the Orioles rotation to its peak potential.
After Chen completed seven innings, having thrown exactly 100 pitches, Tommy Hunter entered for the Orioles and gave Buck Showalter two clean innings of work out of the bullpen.
On the other side of the ball, Orioles hitters got out of their mini-slump, putting up six runs on ten hits despite leaving eighteen men on base. Chris Davis, though, couldn’t get it going once again versus his former team, leaving a team-high five men on base while going hitless with a strikeout in four plate appearance. You’ve got to feel bad for Davis; if there is any team he wants to beat, it’s his former team, the one that gave up on him and traded him to the O’s back in 2011.
It was a good offensive night, however, for Nolan Reimold. The left-fielder went 2-for-4 and drove in three runs with his first home run since returning from the DL. Reimold was a late start for tonight’s game, having replaced Chris Dickerson as the #9 hitter in the DH spot last-minute. No word on what the scratch may mean for Dickerson, but it could be anything from an injury to a mistake in the original lineup card (unlikely) to a possible trade coming soon involving Dickerson.
Manny Machado picked up three hits, including a triple and a run batted in. That’s consecutive three-hit games for the All-Star. Yup, nothing interesting to see here.
Tonight’s win gives the Orioles a 50-42 mark on the year. This is the first time since 1997 that the O’s finished with fifty or more wins before the All-Star break (they had 45 at the break last year). Take that with a grain of salt, though. At this year’s All-Star break (starting next Monday), the Orioles will have played eleven more games than they did at the break last year.
Tomorrow night, the Orioles will look to win and split the four-game series against the Rangers. With Yu Darvish, tomorrow’s original probable starter for Texas, going on the DL with a back injury, the Rangers will go to Ross Wolf for a spot start. Wolf, a reliever, threw one pitch and retired Ryan Flaherty on a ground ball in Monday night’s game. Miguel Gonzalez will get the ball for the Orioles. Gonzo’s last start came back on Friday night, when Jim Johnson’s blown save handed him the unlucky no-decision. He’ll hope for a better outcome, for him and the team, tomorrow night in the series finale.