SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles played to their third tie in eight days today, getting a two-out double by Joe Mahoney in the bottom of the ninth and an RBI single from Steve Tolleson to erase a 3-2 deficit.
Neither team scored in the 10th, and the Orioles’ record stands at 5-6-3.
Zach Phillips retired the side in order in the top of the 10th. Pedro Strop gave up two hits in the ninth, but didn’t permit a run.
Kevin Gregg, Jim Johnson and Matt Lindstrom also had scoreless innings. Johnson retired the side in order and struck out one.
“I thought J.J. was better today,” Showalter said.
Wei-Yin Chen took a three-hit shutout into the fifth before Nate Spears hit a wind-blown three-run homer to right field.
“He was good. Real good. That was one of our better outings this spring. He threw real well,” manager Buck Showalter said.
“You can tell he has a good hand, and he has a good mound presence. He’s got an idea what he’s doing. I know Matt (Wieters) has a lot to work with there. The off-speed pitch was good today, the changeup. I like where he is right now. He’s getting a little better every time out. You can see him getting more comfortable.”
Chen was pounding the strike zone over the first four innings.
“I thought we’d see that more and more as the spring evolved,” Showalter said. “I know the first outing or two he was a little frustrated because he knew he was capable of better. Sometimes, guys with real good command at different levels or different places somehow get a little fearful of the strike zone. I don’t think that’ll happen with him.”
Chen had one pickoff at first base and threw behind Ryan Lavarnway at first, leading to a caught stealing. He almost picked off another runner at second.
It’s not by accident. Pitching coach Rick Adair has been working on Chen’s move.
“Probably one of the top moves that I ever saw was Rick Adair’s move to first base,” Showalter said. “I think he had 40-something one year. Picked off all three in one inning.
“Every time we see that Tippy Martinez (highlight), Rick says, “I’ve been there, done that.’ He has left-handers working with him every other day. Chen did not come with that move.”
Showalter kept a close eye on Nick Markakis on the basepaths today.
“He said he almost missed first base,” Showalter said. “He was smiling. He was pretty happy to get that out of the way. He’s certainly not looking in the dugout for a pinch-runner.”
Down in Fort Myers, the Orioles lost to the Red Sox, 7-4, which left them with a 5-7-3 record.
Manny Machado went 0-for-1 with two walks. Wilson Betemit, Xavier Avery, Matt Antonelli and Cory Aldridge each had an RBI. Willie Eyre (one hit, two strikeouts) and Pat Neshek (one strikeout) each threw a scoreless inning.