Orioles manager Buck Showalter has talked often about how competitive Wei-Yin Chen is on the mound. It may be hard at times for fans or reporters to notice that side of him, but Matt Wieters said his teammates do.
“He has that competitive spirit out there,” Wieters said. “Anytime we’ve needed a big win or big game, he’s stepped up for us and given us a good outing and chance to win. He doesn’t get too caught in the moment, but also seems to know when it’s a key time to step up.”
Like today, when the Orioles had lost the first two games of this series and Chen allowed just one run over 5 2/3 innings to the red-hot A’s.
Chen fanned 12 this afternoon to set a record for most strikeouts in the majors by a Taiwanese-born pitcher and he became the first Oriole to ever fan 10 batters or more in less than six innings.
“He was good,” Wieters said. “He’s improved every start and his breaking ball has really come along. You saw swings and misses off that today, along with his fastball. Not only can he command his fastball, but he knows where he needs to go in the zone to get strikeouts and be able to get ground balls. He can really move the ball in and out and up and down.
“When he has stuff like today, he will get some strikeouts. Plus, their team took the approach they were going to be patient on him and wait him out. That is going to get you into some deeper counts and get to you to two-strike counts.”
When Wieters hit a three-run homer today in the third inning, he ended a 1-for-31 stretch. This was also his first game since Thursday after missing two days with a tight right biceps.
“It was hard sitting on it the last two days. The only way to feel good at the the plate is to keep swinging,” he said.
Chen talked about his 12-strikeout day.
“I think my fastball had pretty good life today and was located pretty well. Everything was good today,” he said. “I was able to keep my fastball down and my breaking ball and off-speed pitches were really good today. Everything worked well.
“I had no idea (I had set a record). After I walked to the dugout, my teammates told me. When the crowd gave me a standing ovation, I had no idea (it was for that).
“Every game is important to us. Not just for me. That is why I want to pitch and get a win for the team - not just today, every day. We have to move on to the next day.”
Omar Quintanilla went 3-for-4 today with a single, double and solo homer. He came up a triple short of becoming the fifth Oriole to hit for the cycle.
“It was in the back of my mind, but I wasn’t trying to do too much and came up short on it. I try to have good at-bats each time. This game isn’t easy,” Quintanilla said after improving his average to .423 in nine games with the club.
“This was a big win for us. Chen threw real well and overall it was a great team effort. I’m blessed with the opportunity I have here.”
“It’s unfortunate what happened to Brian. Andino is coming back and he’s a great player. I don’t make the decisions around here. I’ll be ready whenever and wherever they need me,” Quintanilla said.
It was a big win by the Orioles against a hot Oakland team that had won 18 of its last 21 games and was trying to sweep this series.
But you won’t get Wieters to scoreboard watch just yet.
“Not yet. There are too many teams involved and too many games to go. We just have to worry about winning games to be there at the end,” he said.