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  • Aug

    Chen goes a batter too far. Again. Orioles lose 3-to-2

    Written by Lee Tackett

    Henry Blanco took an 0-2 delivery from Wei-Yin Chen into the left field stands to put the Mariners up by a 3-2 mark that would stand. The Orioles led going into the seventh thanks to a Danny Valencia two run shot in the sixth, but couldn’t overcome the second deficit and fell to an ugly 2-4 in the season series against Seattle.

    Starting Pitching
    Chen was outstanding for the majority of his outing and was a pitch away from turning in another seven plus inning start in line for the win. Chen got into some trouble in the second inning and allowed back-to-back doubles from Michael Morse and Raul Ibanez, but retired the side to limit the damage. Chen only allowed one runner to second base the rest of the game and flashed some of his better fastball command of the season.

    The seventh started innocently enough as Chen was able to diffuse the most recent Oriole nemesis, Justin Smoak, with a strike out. After a walk to Michael Saunders, Chen showed off an excellent pick off move to nab Saunders. With as good as Chen’s command was Sunday, the walk of light hitting Brendan Ryan with two down signaled trouble. Chen got ahead of Henry Blanco, but left the ball up in an 0-2 count and Blanco, hitting under the Mendoza line for the season, didn’t miss.

    The outing was eerily reminiscent of his game against Kansas City where he was almost out of a late inning, but gave up a big hit late in the game that would be the decider.

    Relief Pitching
    Troy Patton did his job and retired the left-handed Kyle Seager and the switch-hitting Morales.

    Tommy Hunter picked up where Patton left off, finishing the eighth and working a scoreless ninth.

    -Unlike Saturday, the Orioles had no trouble getting base runners against former teammate Joe Saunders. Each of the first four innings, the Orioles got a man into scoring position but came up empty.
    -Nick Markakis continued his success out of the leadoff spot and was on base three times, but never brought around to score.
    -The Orioles first of many run scoring opportunities came in the third. Markakis walked to lead off the inning then Manny Machado singled to give the Birds two on and none out. Jones, Davis, and Hardy all were unable to advance the runners and the inning went quietly.
    -Danny Valencia made a convincing argument to be the right side of the DH platoon. Valencia doubled in the second and hit the go ahead home run in the sixth to score Steve Pearce, who was aboard after a leadoff walk. Down to the Jim Hunter call, everyone seemed to breath a sigh of relief after home run. The hit felt big and seemed like it could have precipitated a breakthrough.
    -After the Blanco home run, the O’s went nine up, nine down to end the game.

    Defensive Highlights/Lowlights
    -Chris Davis made Chen’s pickoff play viable by going to get the pick throw and getting rid of it quickly so Hardy could make the tag.

    Key Moments in the Game
    -Any momentum that was in the yard from the Valencia home run dissipated after the Blanco answer. The game felt over after Machado, Jones, and Davis were unable to answer.

    Observations and Musings
    -This loss marks the end of a 4-5 homestand. With games against two AL bottom feeders in the Astros and the Mariners, a sub .500 homestand feels like a waste.
    -Buck and most Oriole managers in recent history have shown a tendency to water down the lineup in Sunday games to get guys off days. Today was no exception. I understand Casilla brings plus defense and can run, but with he and Teagarden at the bottom of the order, the Orioles never seemed to have a chance to add anything from the bottom of their lineup. Throw Pearce in instead of McLouth and this felt almost like a JV day.
    -Armchair quarterbacking regarding the decision to leave Chen is a bit unwarranted. The bullpen was spent from the previous two nights of starters not getting through the sixth and Chen was facing a sub .200 hitter and had him down 0-2. He simply made a mistake.
    -The upcoming West Coast road trip will likely become a defining trip in the season. 2 with San Diego, 3 with San Francisco, and three with Arizona on the surface seem like an opportunity for the team to gain back some ground in both the division and the wild card. Given the way the rest of the league has been playing, white hot, a sub .500 road trip could leave the team with a very difficult deficit to climb in the second half of August into September.

    Box Score.

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