Orioles catcher Matt Wieters was asked what made the difference tonight for pitcher Wei-Yin Chen. He had an ERA of 6.75 over his first two starts, but this evening gave up just one run and five hits over 6 1/3 innings in the Orioles’ 7-1 win over Tampa Bay.
“He was able to throw strikes early, get early outs and let our defense work behind him,” Wieters said. “He was carrying a little bit more of a fastball tonight which also helped him out.”
Meaning he had more velocity tonight?
“Yeah, had more life,” Wieters said. “More finish more than anything. I didn’t really look at the radar gun at all but it seemed like it had more life on it. Think he was just staying in his delivery more today than he did in his previous starts.
“Command of the fastball is always big. Big thing today was staying down in the zone. He was able to get strikes at the knees.”
Chen improved to 3-3 with an ERA of 2.86 in 10 career starts against the Rays. He had given up 21 hits in 10 2/3 over his first two 2014 outings.
“I think the main difference was the movement on my pitches was better than the previous games and the hitters had more trouble with it,” Chen said through his interpreter.
Chen agreed that it was an important outing for him.
“I would say (I needed it) pretty bad, because in the last outing my teammates did a fantastic job scoring runs for me but I didn’t do a really good job,” he said. “I wanted to do it for the team. The good defensive plays they made helped me settle down and picked me up tonight. I really appreciate the team effort.”
J.J. Hardy was asked about the offensive approach against Chris Archer as the Orioles got seven runs off the right-hander over five innings.
“I don’t know. He’s good,” Hardy said. “We were hitting some doubles all over the park. He’s a good pitcher, just fortunate to get some good swings there. Nice to pitch and hit like we did and play a good game.”
Hardy has now played three games since returning to the lineup after dealing with back spasms.
“Feeling more comfortable,” he said. “Not thinking about my back anymore. That’s a good thing. I don’t think I thought about it at all tonight.”
Wieters went 3-for-4 as the Orioles had six players drive in runs with 13 hits.
“He’s tough, he’s got great stuff,” Wieters said of Archer. “You just go up there and look for something middle of the plate that you can put some barrel on. Lot of big two-out hits and RBIs with guys on second. It wasn’t really the longball tonight.”
Wieters is off to a good start at the plate, batting .366 with three homers, eight RBIs and a 1.034 OPS. He’s hitting .400 (12-for-30) against right-handed pitchers.
“Mostly just trying to hit the ball where it’s pitched. Now it’s just kind of read and react for me. Something I hope I can carry through the whole year,” he said.