BOSTON - The Orioles are back in first place in the American League East, and they finally won a series after four straight failed attempts.
Most of the credit goes to Wei-Yin Chen, who held the Red Sox to one run over seven innings.
Manager Buck Showalter thinks Chen might actually benefit from working on normal rest.
“We’ve been trying to be careful with him rest-wise, but he was crisp from the get-go,” Showalter said. “You come in this ballpark, left-handers, command of the fastball, you have to have it here with the right-handed hitters you’re going to see, and obviously a right-handed hitter favored ballpark a lot of times. He was the difference.”
The difference in Chen tonight was his command.
“Probably command of the fastball. I think more down,” Showalter said. “The one inning he gave up a run was probably the only inning he elevated the ball much.”
Asked about the novelty of playing a low-scoring game at Fenway Park, Showalter said, “I figured it was real nice for you all with the time of game and everything.
“You could see early on (Josh) Beckett was carrying good stuff. Great command. And the only way you can compete in a game like that is to match him. Chen pitched as well if not better. That’s the difference. And you see someone like that carrying what he was carrying, especially the command of all his pitches there, you know you’re going to have to have a real good start by your starter to compete with him.”
Chen escaped a jam in the seventh after the Red Sox put runners on second and third with one out. It was his defining moment of the night.
“Nothing with him surprises me,” Showalter said. “He’s pitched too effectively not to get a chance to decide his own fate there. It’s a tribute to him. He reached back and emptied his tank and got it done.”
The Orioles took the lead in the sixth after consecutive singles by the last three hitters in their order and Endy Chavez’s ground ball.
“You see we’re going to have to kind of count on some guys to make contributions that we don’t normally do,” Showalter said. “We talked about the team aspect of it from the beginning of spring, that everybody’s going to be asked to contribute. It’s a given that we’re going to have to get production from different people on a given night.”
Jim Johnson was handed the ball again tonight after blowing a save and going two innings the previous night. He retired the side in order, including Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who hit a game-tying two-run homer off him Tuesday night.
“Jimmy could have given up a run tonight and we wouldn’t have felt any different about him,” Showalter said. “Jimmy’s been solid for about two years now, since I’ve been here. He’s very strong mentally and I’m not saying he looks forward to facing any hitter, but he looks forward to the challenge of the competition. And he’s going to compete. You’re not ever going to put your head on the pillow and not think he’s firing all his ammo.”
Mark Reynolds played an outstanding game at first base, which shouldn’t be ignored.
“He had a good night at first base, very aggressive,” Showalter said. “Mark wants to play good defense and he works hard at it. I watch him during BP take a bunch of work at first and third in case we need it. He’s told me he’ll go in the outfield.”
Asked about the chance to salvage this road trip, Showalter replied, “I don’t look at salvaging. We’ve had a very competitive season so far and we’re trying to compete and keep it going. You don’t expect anybody to pull away. There are too many good teams in our division. You’ve just got to take care of your business and winning one game at a time is really what it’s about.”