The Orioles destroyed the Yankees today in the first game of their split-bill doubleheader. The Yankees need to win just one of these final three to ensure home field advantage, but the Orioles were not interested in that win coming in this game. Wei-Yin Chen, in probably his last game as an Oriole, pitched six plus strong innings and the offense exploded for nine runs thanks in part to a four-hit game by Gerardo Parra, a four-walk(!) game by Matt Wieters, and Manny Machado's 34th home run of the season.
Wei-Yin Chen's Farewell?
If this is to be Chen's last start as an Oriole, it was one that mimicked many of the starts we have seen from him over the last four seasons. Chen pitched six shutout innings, working himself out of a few minor jams. In the second inning he stranded Chris Young after Young hit a leadoff triple. In the third inning he gave up back-to-back singles but benefitted from some defense and/or bad baserunning as Steve Pearce threw out Brendan Ryan at third base. Two more baserunners in in the fourth, two more stranded. He walked a batter in the sixth and left him at first. Like so many Chen starts, it wasn't flashy but it was effective. I'm going to miss that if he doesn't return.
Chen came back out to start the seventh inning, but he was nearing 100 pitches and we all know what happens when he gets into the seventh at around 100 pitches. He walked John Ryan Murphy and gave up a single to Jose Pirela, and that was that. Buck Showalter came out to retrieve him and the small crowd at Camden Yards gave Chen a standing ovation as he walked off the field as an Oriole for probably the last time.
Unfortunately he didn't get to put up a scoreless outing for his last start this season. Brad Brach came in to pitch in relief and wasn't sharp. He hasn't looked good the last few times he's pitched. Brach was a great piece of the bullpen this season for the Orioles, and he has been used a lot. He came into today with 60 appearances, the second most of his career, and 78 inning pitched, thst most of his career. I think Brach is pooped. He got two outs, but also allowed both of Chen's runs to score. He was taken out of the game when Alex Rodriguez came to the plate. Mychal Givens struck him out to end the inning, then he and Oliver Drake combined to close out the win for Chen.
The offense jumped all over Ivan Nova in this game, though through the first five innings they scored just three runs despite what could have been three big innings. Through those first five innings, Manny "MVO In Our Hearts" Machado was in the middle of the scoring and poor Steve Pearce was the goat. In the first inning Nolan Reimold and Gerardo Parra singled, and Machado knocked Reimold in on a double play ball. That's basically the worst way to score a run, but you can't argue with a first-inning lead.
In the third inning Reimold and Parra both reached again (this time a HBP and double, respectively). Manny grounded out again, Nolan came in to score again. In the fifth inning neither Riemold nor Parra reached base, so Manny was faced with more of a challenge if he wanted to knock in another run He was up to it, as he hit his 34th home run into center field. The home run gave the Orioles a 3-0 lead, which isn't bad through five innings. But it definitely felt like it could have been more.
I mentioned Pearce being the goat, and in fairness to him there were two outs when he came to the plate in the first, third, and fifth innings. But he still didn't get the job done, stranding two runners in each of this first three at bats. In the first he lined out to deep left field on a ball that might have been a home run on a hot July day. That stranded Chris Davis and Matt Wieters and ended the inning. In the third inning Pearce flew out again, this time stranding Parra and Wieters. And in the fifth, after Machado hit his home run, Davis and Wieters both reached based again, and again Pearce stranded them. That wasn't the end of Pearce's troubles, but we'll get to the rest later.
Any possible luck that Nova might have felt for getting out of those innings without more than single run scoring in any inning evened out on Nova in the sixth. He got two outs but also gave up singles to J.J. Hardy and Reimold before getting pulled for Chasen Shreve. Shreve completely fell apart, allowing both of Nova's runners to score along with two of his own. He need to retire just one batter, but had to face five before he could do it. The guy he got out? Pearce. Again he stranded two runners, making it eight on the day. Oof.
On another day (and perhaps another season, since this one is already lost) we'd be cursing Pearce's name. But not in this game. The Orioles scored seven runs in six innings despite his troubles, then added on two more in the seventh on a bases-loaded double by Parra. It was Parra's fourth hit of the game! What's more impressive: Parra's four-hit game or Wieters's four-walk game?
We're Not Done Yet!
Today's win was fun, but hopefully the fun isn't over. The Orioles and Yankees will face off again tonight at 7:05, with Ubaldo Jimenez pitching for the Orioles against Luis Severino. The Yankees were hoping to win game one to lock up their home field advantage so they could give Severino the night off. I wonder what Nelson Muntz would say about that?