The Orioles needed a win on Sunday to not lose any further ground in the Wild Card race, and they got from a superb performance on the mound by Wei-Yin Chen, plus a Matt Wieters three run homer.
When all was said and done, the Orioles defeated the Oakland Athletics, 6-1, on a wonderful Sunday afternoon in Baltimore.
They avoided a three game streak against a very hot Oakland team, and at 53-49, remain 2.5 games behind in the wild card hunt. The Orioles are 7.5 games behind the Yankees in the American League East.
Chen was star of the game, as he pitched a masterful game, perhaps one of better starts by an Oriole in a longtime. The only real downer to Chen’s outing was that he didn’t get past the sixth inning, despite striking out 12 Oakland batters and dominating them. He walked four, and upped his pitch out to over 100 before the sixth inning; therefore, he got pulled.
Chen’s feat made a bit of history as he set a record for the most strikeouts by a Taiwanese-born pitcher and the most by an Oriole since July 2007 (set by Erik Bedard). He got some major help by the Baltimore offense as they jumped on Oakland starter Travis Blackley in the fourth inning as they plated four runs in the frame – off an Adam Jones RBI-double and a Matt Wieters three-run homer, his 13th.
That gave Chen and the Orioles all they needed on the afternoon. They added another run in the fifth off a Wieters’ RBI-groundout, and in 6th inning via an Omar Quintanilla solo homer.
With a two-game losing streak snapped and the Orioles still in the playoff, they travel to New York to face the Yankees in a three-game set.
Obviously, this is another critical series for the Orioles. If the Orioles swept in New York, or lose two out of three, they could be buried in the playoff hunt.
They just have to win, and keep on doing so. It will be interesting to see if the Orioles make any moves. I would think something would need to be done since they are very much still in the race for a wild card spot and teams have added pieces for the stretch run.
I would imagine Dan Duquette has been trying to get some reinforcements for the Orioles, but either the prices are too high for available talent, or there are deals too risky for the franchise.
After being out of the major leagues for a decade and the struggles of the Orioles well-known since 1998, Duquette wants to win – perhaps even more than we know.
However, the future of the franchise should not be mortgaged for a one-game playoff spot.
Finally, I do feel for Brian Roberts. No matter what you think of him, the latest setback for him truly is awful.
I’ll have some thoughts in an upcoming post later on.