After two subpar outings, Chen finally lasted more than six innings and allowed fewer than four runs -- something he hadn’t done in his first two starts this year.
In fact, he gave up just one run Monday against the Tampa Bay Rays, and he didn’t allow a hit until James Loney's one-out double in the fifth. Overall, he allowed five hits, two walks and struck out four in 6 1/3 innings, lowering his season ERA from 6.75 to 4.76.
“I thought balls went right at some fielders. We played real good defense,” Showalter said. “I thought they centered a lot of balls off him. We were fortunate tonight. Real good defense. Three double plays, two behind him. They hit a lot of balls hard. Fortunately, we had people where they hit them.”
In his first two starts, Chen allowed 21 hits in 10 2/3 innings, but Showalter said he felt like there were a lot of times balls just fell in. On Monday, there were some rockets hit against Chen, but Ryan Flaherty, Steve Lombardozzi, J.J. Hardy and Chen all made nice defensive stabs.
"The baseball gods were kind to him tonight after not being kind to him early on,” Showalter said.
Overall, Chen (2-1) was pleased with his effort and the outcome, though he gave plenty of props to the guys behind him.
“At the start of the game, the play Flaherty made and that [Lombardozzi] made helped me a lot. I was already getting into the game, but those plays helped me settle down,” Chen said through his interpreter, Louis Chao. “Later on in the game, the one Hardy made, the play Hardy made was fantastic. So the defense really picked me up tonight.”