Orioles 4, Astros 3: The wins you're supposed to win

Patrick Smith

Wei-Yin Chen survives the BABIP demons and the Orioles scratch together just enough runs to top the Astros

In addition to being on the skids a bit as of late (dropping five of their last six), the Orioles have struggled all year against poor-to-middling teams who they were supposed to beat, losing series to the Twins, Mariners and Royals. So it was refreshing to see the team start off a three-game series against the lowly Houston Astros with a win -- even if they made it seem closer than it should have been.

Wei-Yin Chen took the hill tonight, and got the win while allowing three earned runs in 7.1 IP. The truth is, Chen didn't even deserve that line, as he put forth a dazzling effort where he struck out nine and walked only one, keeping the Astros hitters reeling in every frame except for a third inning where he got BABIP'd to death. The Astros plated three runs on exactly one solid hit -- a clean single to left by Matt Dominguez that got things started. From there, Chen loaded the bases on a pop-up bunt into no man's land by Robbie Grossman, and a weak grounder through the right side by Jonathan Villar. Then the Astros plated two runs on another weak single, this time through the hole on the left side by Jose Altuve. Chen did put himself back in trouble with a walk to Jason Castro, but the third run scored when Villar stole home (a heads-up play) while nobody was looking. It was just a tough frame for Chen, that could've ended scoreless with a couple of bounces going a different way.

Meanwhile, the Astros sent Lucas Harrell to the hill for his first start since a June demotion to the bullpen. Mike Bordick mentioned early that Harrell had turned in nine solid starts (one of which, of course, was against the Orioles), and otherwise simply imploded on the mound, allowing too many walks and inopportune big hits. For quite a while, it looked like the Orioles offense was going to help Harrel back into form, not getting a baserunner until a Matt Wieters walk in the second inning, and not putting up a hit until the fourth.

But fortunately, that hit was at a critical time. Following three walks (to Manny Machado, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters), J.J. Hardy slapped a two-run base hit to left to get the Orioles on the board. Harrell settled back down for a three-up, three-down fifth, but got chased in the sixth Chris Davis home run, which gave the Orioles a 4-3 lead by scoring Nick Markakis, who had walked to lead off the inning. In all, the Orioles managed four runs on just three hits, by working seven walks. Perhaps they should take note of the potential offered by this approach at the plate.

Chen went into cruise control after the third inning, allowing three scattered hits before being lifted for Darren O'Day in the top of the eighth. O'Day and Jim Johnson provided a drama-free finish to the game, stranding Chen's last baserunner and allowing none of their own, with Johnson notching his 36th save on a 1-2-3 inning.

In all, this was a refreshing ballgame, not just in that the Orioles got back in the win column, but because of how they did so. A solid seven-inning start, patient at-bats, timely hits, a Chris Davis home run and a shutdown bullpen. These ingredients have only shown up one or two at a time since the All-Star Break. Tonight, the Orioles got them all, keeping a grip on their wild-card spot and keeping pace in the AL East, with Boston and Tampa also winning.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Camden Chat

You must be a member of Camden Chat to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Camden Chat. You should read them.

Join Camden Chat

You must be a member of Camden Chat to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Camden Chat. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker