Wei-Yin Chen looks to avoid Fenway repeat tonight

It was about three weeks ago and it was at Fenway Park. Wei-Yin Chen had the worst start of the 52 he has made in his two seasons with the Orioles.

To say the least, he needs to avoid a repeat tonight. On Aug. 27 in a 13-2 loss to the Red Sox, Chen went just 3 2/3 innings, allowing eight hits, eight runs and two homers.

A fair question to ask is why Chen has struggled recently. At the end of July, he was 6-3 with a 2.87 ERA. In eight starts since, he is 1-4 with a 5.83 ERA.

I don’t think it has anything to do with Chen tiring as some have suggested. Remember he missed almost two months with a strained right oblique. Chen is at 121 2/3 innings now and he pitched 192 2/3 last year.

The longball has hurt him at times. He gave up just six homers this season over his first 14 starts and has allowed nine in his last six starts. He has given up two homers in a game four times in those six starts.

I had someone suggest that Chen throws too many off-speed pitches. But I feel at times he throws too many fastballs.

It probably comes down to - as it often does in pitching - command and control. You can throw just about any pitch at any time if you get ahead in the count and locate well.

Chen pitched some very big games for the Orioles last year. He needs to do that tonight against the Red Sox.

More O’s notes:

* The Orioles were 4-17 in one-run games since July 4 until winning by 3-2 last night.

* Former Oriole Koji Uehara had retired 37 straight batters, the longest streak in Red Sox history, until Danny Valencia tripled leading off the ninth last night.

That was the second-longest such stretch by a reliever in MLB history (Bobby Jenks, 41 in 2007) and just eight batters shy of the all-time record (Mark Buehrle, 45 in 2009), according to SABR.

* Manny Machado’s double in the eighth last night was his 51st double of the year. Machado has five doubles in his last 10 games and leads the AL by eight over Oakland’s Jed Lowrie. Machado’s 185 hits are tied for first in the AL with Texas’ Adrian Beltre.

* The Orioles have won two of the last three games despite scoring three runs each time. They are batting just .200 and are just 3-for-25 with runners in scoring position in those three games.

* The Orioles have now scored five or fewer runs for 14 consecutive games.

* The Red Sox are 6-8 against the Orioles, but are 34-20 against the rest of the AL East.

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