Chen battles, but O's come up short vs. Sox
Lefty tagged for 12 hits over 5 2/3 frames; offense stays relatively quiet
BALTIMORE -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter and Wei-Yin Chen looked at the starter's 4-3 loss to the Red Sox on Thursday night at Camden Yards from a glass half-full point of view.
In his first start of the regular season, the left-hander allowed a voluminous 12 hits over 5 2/3 innings against the defending World Series champions. This came after the 28-year-old finished Spring Training with a 6.39 ERA and struggled in four starts against Boston last season.
However, 11 of the hits were singles, several of which were flares or simply found holes through the infield. Overall, Chen (0-1) allowed four runs with five strikeouts and did not issue a walk. With the lineup unable to produce enough timely hits late, he also took the loss as the Orioles (1-2) dropped their season-opening series.
"He gave us a good chance to win. I'm proud of him," Showalter said. "He threw pretty well all things considered. I'll take that. He scattered some hits. Three or four of them were of the cheap variety."
Baltimore's offense could only scratch out three runs against Boston (2-1) starter Felix Doubront and four relievers.
The Orioles scored twice in the fourth inning on a two-out RBI double by Matt Wieters, who scored on Delmon Young's single. Chris Davis, who had his first two hits of the season, cut Boston's lead to 4-3 in the sixth, crossing the plate following a wild pitch from reliever Brandon Workman. Baltimore put two runners on in the eighth, but Young's ground out against reliever Junichi Tazawa ended the threat.
Baltimore took the opening game 2-1, but they lost the next two as the Sox produced 10 runs on 23 hits. The Orioles scored six runs in the three-game set.
"That's why they were the last team standing last year," Showalter said of the Red Sox's pitching staff. "They pitched better than everybody else for the most part, and I don't think I'm telling anybody anything they don't know. You pitch real well, you've got a chance to play extra games at the end of the year."
Chen finished the 2013 campaign 7-7 with a 4.07 ERA. Those numbers would have looked better sans his struggles against the Red Sox. He went 0-2 and allowed 17 earned runs in 21 innings.
The woes continued in 2014. Boston had six hits in its first 12 plate appearances, singles opening each of the first four innings and at least one hit in every frame against Chen before the crowd of 20,880.
Chen allowed the first run on a double-play grounder in the second. David Ortiz's two-out blooper in the third evaded a diving Nelson Cruz in shallow left for a 2-0 lead. Three singles in the fourth added a third run and Jackie Bradley Jr.'s RBI hit in the sixth put Boston up 4-2.
"Overall, I didn't feel it was that bad," said Chen via a translator.
The pitcher also didn't use the Red Sox potent lineup as an excuse.
"I think that's something you need to overcome as a pitcher," Chen said. "So today, I allowed a lot of hits. That's what I have to work on. I didn't allow a big inning, that's what I'm happy about."
Doubront (1-0) allowed three runs on six hits with four strikeouts and a walk over 5 1/3 innings. Relievers Workman, Chris Capuano and Tazawa followed with scoreless relief and then Koji Uehara earned his first save.
"I thought Felix was crisp, he was sharp, he had a good changeup," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "He had good stuff tonight. Exciting to see him take the last start in Spring Training out to the mound tonight."
Baltimore joined the scoring with two runs in the fourth on three hits off the wall by Davis, Wieters and Young. Hitless in his first seven at-bats this season, Davis hammered a drive off the center-field wall leading off the inning.
Wieters and Nick Markakis each had two hits. Cruz, who homered in his first two games with the Orioles, went 0-for-4 and left five men on base. Shortstop J.J. Hardy, who along with Davis and Adam Jones received their American League Silver Slugger Awards from last season before the game, also went hitless in four at-bats.
"They threw well against us in three games, but you know, luckily it's a long season," Hardy said. "We'll see them again."
That's true, though not until April 18, the start of a four-game series in Boston. Baltimore opens a three-game series in Detroit on Friday.