Orioles manager Buck Showalter never second-guessed his decision tonight to send Wei-Yin Chen back to the mound in the top of the eighth inning, and to leave the left-hander out there with the tying run on base.
Chen struck out Jason Castro, and Darren O’Day retired the next two batters to preserve a one-run lead.
“There were a lot of key outs. It was a close game,” Showalter said after the Orioles’ 4-3 win over the Astros at Camden Yards.
“Just felt like he was still carrying his stuff. When a guy’s pitching as well as Wei-Yin’s pitching, you look at the inning. He gave up a broken-bat single to left. I think there was one ball hit hard there. You really change the karma of a game a little bit taking out a guy who’s pitching that well, so you want to make sure ...
“It was tough, but I thought he was carrying his stuff well and he was working on an extra days rest, too, which was big for me. And he doesn’t have that many innings under his belt. He made it work out and Darren got some big outs. Jimmy (Johnson) was clean in the ninth.”
Chen threw a career-high 119 pitches tonight. Well, the most he’s thrown in the majors.
“The game dictates it,” Showalter said. “The other team tells me what’s going on. It’s hard. The problem is you’ve got good people to pick from out of the bullpen. There’s a karma change when you take a guy out of a game who’s pitching real well. Of course, Darren kept that going, too. But with the number of innings he’s thrown this year being way down and working on an extra days rest, those things come into play before we go out on the field. I didn’t think it was a particularly laborious outing with the exception of one or maybe two innings.”
One of Chen’s few mistakes tonight came on Jonathan Villar’s easy steal of home.
What should have happened?
“Throw strike three,” Showalter replid. “Don’t step off. Throw strike three and the inning is over. Just don’t step off. Just throw a strike and the inning is over.”
Chris Davis’ home run drought is over.
“I thought the key to the game - obviously, Chris had a big blow - but we didn’t panic. We stayed selective. That was big,” Showalter said.
“A lot of times, a guy who has as much movement as Harrell did tonight, that would fall right into play for him. But you don’t know how many pitches he’s going to go and how far they’re going to allow him to go. You just have to keep grinding him.
“We all know how well Chris has hit. He’s been so consistent. And you look around. Whatever’s going on, he’s hitting .300 and has almost 100 RBIs, so it’s not like a real challenging decision to write his name in the lineup.”
J.J. Hardy’s two-out, two-run single in the fourth cut into Houston’s 3-0 lead.
“I thought the biggest hit of the ballgame other than Chris’ was J.J,” Showalter said. “That’s a huge hit to get some momentum going.”
Hardy has 16 multi-RBI games this season, most among American League shortstops. Detroit’s Jhonny Peralta was second with 13 before tonight. Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki led the majors with 18.
The Orioles are on pace to make 48 errors in 162 games. The major league record is 65 by the 2003 Mariners.
The Orioles are now 12-1 when Chen goes seven or more innings.