Even before he was introduced into the game tonight, Andrew Miller got a big reception from Orioles fans in the eighth inning as he was about to throw his first pitch for the team.
He made his O’s debut and it was a success, as he protected the club’s 2-1 lead with two groundouts around a walk to Robinson Cano.
“Real exciting reception,” Miller said. “I was a little amped up at first. But the goal is to hand the ball off to the next guy with the lead. Bridge the gap between an excellent start and great finish, so I’ll take it.
“Completely unexpected, that was really cool (of the fans). I don’t know how many times I’ll ever get to feel something like that. That was pretty awesome. I think they may have overhyped me a little bit. That was pretty cool and means a lot and I hope to do the job they expect of me.”
It’s been a whirlwind first day as an Oriole for Miller, but it ends with him getting in the game and the Orioles winning another one-run decision.
“It’s been incredible. It’s been a good start. I can’t complain one bit,” he said.
The Orioles have scored just two runs over their last 25 innings. But they got a key hit from J.J. Hardy in the sixth inning. His two-out single scored Manny Machado for the 2-1 lead.
“The way it’s been going for us, it seems like there is a new guy every night that is coming through,” Hardy said. “I haven’t gotten many hits lately, so that felt good to get that one in a key moment.”
Hardy was asked how critical the club’s starting pitching has been in recent weeks and how good Wei-Yin Chen was tonight. Chen went 7 1/3 innings and O’s starters have pitched to an ERA of 3.05 over the last 47 games, leading the team to a 30-17 mark.
“As everyone says, it starts with the starting pitching. As well as we’ve played since the All-Star break, it’s been huge for us,” Hardy said.
“He was mixing up his pitches and I thought he had a nice slider that I don’t think he uses all the time, but he was using a little bit tonight. Kept them off-balance and it sure looks like his fastball is pretty sneaky because he throws it by a lot of hitters.”
Chen’s postgame interview began on a somber note tonight. He asked to make a statement before he took questions about a tragedy back in his home area of Taiwan.
“Unfortunately back in my hometown, there was a horrible accident - a gas explosion which took away thousands of lives,” he said through his interpreter. “Today, this win I would like to give out to my home people and I want to send out my best wishes. Hope everyone is all right there.”
Chen is now 12-3 with an ERA of 3.76 after giving up just one run and five hits. He now has a career-high five-game winning streak and is 5-0 with an ERA of 2.53 over his last five starts.
“I felt good out there,” he said. “Caleb (Joseph) really helped me out there, including the last game. If our starters give enough innings to the team, we have a really good chance to win.
“Today, my fastball had pretty good life. Sometimes I couldn’t even control it. So I think that is one reason that helped my slider to get a lot of strikeouts. Also, I had pretty good command on my slider tonight.”
Chen was asked about his current winning streak.
“I didn’t do anything different than previous years,” he said. “But the biggest reason I can get on such a streak is my teammates. They really played well behind me, that is the reason.”
Tonight, the Orioles matched a longstanding club record by playing a seventh straight one-run game. That last happened from June 21-29, 1956 and the O’s are 5-2 in the current stretch.
The O’s clinched the season series against the Mariners, improving to 4-1 with two games to play. Baltimore is 14-6 against Seattle since the start of the 2012 season.
The Orioles are 10-3 in their last 13 home games and their pitchers have posted a 2.38 ERA.