The Orioles rallied to within one run of the Tampa Bay Rays this afternoon before suffering a 5-4 loss at Camden Yards.
Wei-Yin Chen lost for the first time since May 3 in Minnesota, allowing three home runs over 3 1/3 innings. Manager Buck Showalter offered his opinion of Chen’s start, the shortest of the left-hander’s major league career.
“Velocity-wise, obviously he was fine, but he got beat on two off-speed pitches,” Showalter said. “One was a slider and one was a changeup. Not a lot of depth change today with his off-speed pitches. Kind of side to side and that gets you in trouble, but obviously the bullpen did a great job after the fact. He’s been pitching well. Today, he never seemed to get in step.
“Fastball-wise he was fine. Just the location. He wasn’t getting the ball where he usually gets it where he drives it on the inner half and drives it on the outer half. You know left-handed pitchers are going to see seven, eight, nine right-handed hitters up here and you’ve got to establish the inner half and the outer half so you can go both sides, and there wasn’t enough off-speed pitches, the crispness of those to offset the lack of command of the fastball.”
The ball was really carrying today, with the teams combining for five home runs.
“It was the same for both teams,” Showalter said. “I don’t know. You know from about the third or fourth inning to about the seventh inning, nobody can really see. You’re going to see all these games that start at 4 o’clock that there’s a common thread that you don’t see much offense. Everybody had trouble even seeing the ball for about three or four innings.
“If you go back through all these 4 o’clock games over the course of a season, you’ll notice a pretty common denominator there. But we play when they say play.”
Chen has allowed 12 home runs in his last eight starts after surrendering three in the first eight.
“He’s had a pretty good year for us, all things considered, and we can certainly find room for improvement from today,” Showalter said.
“The Jennings home run, we still felt like we were in it. Nicky (Markakis) gave us some breath and there was a time in that game you could have made some money betting on whether we’d get the tying or go-ahead run there. (Jake) McGee is tough. I thought Jonsey (Adam Jones) had a good, tough at-bat, shortened up and poked it into right. That was pretty impressive. And Nelson (Cruz) just missed one. But I was proud of the bullpen.
“(Brad) Brach was the guy we pushed today that we really didn’t want to. Actually said he felt better today than he did yesterday.”
Showalter used five relievers to give them some work and said the club wouldn’t need to make a roster move before Sunday’s series finale. Only two are deemed unavailable, and Brach certainly has to be one of them.
Ryan Webb struck out the side in order for the second time this season and the second time in his career. It also happened on April 21 versus the Red Sox.
T.J. McFarland has posted a 0.57 ERA this month, allowing one earned run in 15 2/3 innings.
The bullpen has allowed one run in the last 29 2/3 innings.
Former Oriole Erik Bedard retired 12 in a row before Markakis’ home run in the sixth. He went a season-high seven innings, walking none and striking out seven.
“Had real good command of the curveball and the cutter, which allowed him to throw inside,” Showalter said. “At times this year, he’s been challenged with his command a little bit. Today he wasn’t. He was crisp and was able to command the changeup, the cutter, a couple of strikeouts in. He’s got such good arm speed on the curveball, and when he’s got command of it, it’s a tough pitch to see in a lot of different heights and depths to pitches and they’re all coming out of the same window.
“Everybody talks about pitching in and out, but changing depths really challenges hitters, too, especially when you’re throwing that many pitches in the twilight. But he would have been effective regardless.”