This is the kind of game that, in the regular season, would send us all to the barricades to battle over who could overreact the most to the outcome. I am not immune to this, as you surely know, and I would probably write something about how right now it feels like the Orioles are never going to win another game, this is the beginning of the return to the suck, and so on and so forth. It's spring training, so it doesn't matter that the Orioles lost 13-4 to the Phillies and that Wei-Yin Chen looked awful, but it's a good thing that it doesn't count.
We know from last year that Chen is not immune to the occasional disastrous outing. We also know he has some first-inning struggles. MASN helpfully reminded us that he surrendered 21 runs across the 32 first-innings that he pitched in the 2012 season. Three first-inning runs today, part of seven runs surrendered (six earned) in only 3.1 IP, are part of Chen's pattern.
Charitably, one might say that at least he got one of his bad outings out of the way before the regular season even began.
Actually, if you want to go into supreme homer apologist territory today, you could also question whether Chen suffers unfairly in a spring training stadium that suffers from jet stream home runs. He is a fly ball pitcher who, improbably, found some success in Camden Yards even considering that. In today's game, three of those fly balls blew out to left field and were gone. Five of the seven runs Chen allowed came on these home runs - two by Chase Utley and one by Ryan Howard.
You can worry, on one hand, that Chen gave up a home run to the lefty-challenged Howard. On the other hand, having watched the game, I will say this: the swing Howard put on that baseball looked like the kind of swing that gets a baseball served into right field for a Jeterian base hit. Now, Howard is certainly a big, strong dude, probably capable of pulling off Chris Davis-like feats of strength. But no swing that looked like that has any business being a home run. So maybe there was something to the jet stream factor.
Utley, who hasn't had more than 16 home runs since 2009, hit both of his home runs to the opposite field. They weren't exactly cheap ones, but with that wind, who knows? Maybe it wasn't all Chen's fault.
Jim Johnson was scheduled to get in work today and he ended up relieving Chen. He picked up where Chen left off, giving up a three-run home run to Domonic Brown. It may have been a legitimate homer. I was too busy being aghast that he'd surrendered a hit to Michael Young the play before to really notice.
Later in the game, Darren O'Day gave up an Earl Weaver special to Yuniesky Betancourt (!), though the runs were all unearned due to a J.J. Hardy error. A load of dishes was more exciting than the game at that point. I have no comment on either the error or the home run other than general disbelief about giving up anything positive to Betancourt.
The Orioles scored some runs due to some guys doing some stuff, but if I'm going to be intellectually consistent in arguing that it's good this game doesn't count, then I can't go getting excited about any bright spots for the Orioles offensively either. Plus, two of the runs scored Past A Diving Michael Young, so they hardly even count anyway.
Tomorrow's spring training contest will see the O's hit the road to play the Pirates. The game will be broadcast over the radio on WBAL in Baltimore, with the Pirates TV feed being available to MLB.tv subscribers. First pitch is 1:05pm.