Wei-Yin Chen acted as the stopper tonight for the Baltimore Orioles, giving the club seven strong innings of two-run ball, all the while giving the O’s a chance to win. The guys behind him did exactly that, beating the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2 at Camden Yards to avoid the sweep.
The win improved Chen’s personal record to 7-6, and lowered his ERA to 3.19 in the process. He gave up solo shots to both Jason Bourgeois (1) and Sean Rodriguez (3), but outside of those mistake pitches, he was brilliant on the mound Wednesday, allowing only 6 hits and 3 walks all night. Despite Chen’s best efforts, the O’s still managed to give their fans heart attacks in the ninth inning, when Darren O’Day and Brian Matusz put the first two batters of the inning on base before Tommy Hunter came in and cleaned up their mess. It was Hunter’s fourth save on the year, but a partial save should go to Matt Wieters, who ended the game on a stunning throw down to second base to nail Kelly Johnson, who for some reason thought it was a good idea to run on him (a helpful tip to opposing teams: it never is).
On the offensive side of things, Chris Davis continued his colossal season by smashing his MLB-leading 46th home run of the season on to Eutaw Street in the 5th inning. Davis is now tied with Jim Gentile for third on the Orioles’ single-season HR leader board, trailing only Frank Robinson (49) and Brady Anderson (50), both of whom he is likely to pass. Adam Jones also cracked one out of the park tonight (26), his landing 451 feet from the plate; the O’s longest homer of the year thus far.
The O’s are lucky they got power from their big two tonight, as the team was 0-7 with RISP for the game; not exactly a great strategy for winning ballgames. The team has looked sluggish for the better part of a month now, and they better hope that the spell they’ve been under is wearing off. With only 36 games left, the team needs to kick it into high gear if they want to make a deep playoff run.
They will look to feed off of tonight’s victory on Friday, when the Wild Card-leading Oakland Athletics come to town. This series means a lot to both teams, so it should be a great one to watch. Baltimore will turn to Bud Norris (9-10, 3.93) in game one in hopes of extending their win streak, while the A’s will hand the ball to Dan Straily (6-7, 4.22).