When a pitcher gives up nine hits and a walk over six innings but only allows one run, there are usually two other factors at play than just his ability to scatter hits.
The first is strikeouts, specifically with runners in scoring position. Orioles’ starterWei-Yin Chen struck out four on Tuesday in Baltimore’s 7-1 win, but only two of those strikeouts were with runners in scoring position.
The other factor to look at is defense — and the O's had plenty of that.
“The Red Sox are a really tough lineup, but first of all, I have to give all the credit to the guys behind me that did an incredible job,” Chen said through interpreter Tim Lin. “Nice catches and nice plays behind me.”
While Chen did do a nice job of scattering those nine hits and limiting the damage, he also got a lot of help from the defense behind him.
It started early on, when third baseman Manny Machado — a natural shortstop who played a grand total of two games at third base before getting promoted to the majors — made a barehanded pickup on a sacrifice bunt in the first inning to throw out speedy Boston designated hitter Pedro Ciriaco.
Chen also got in on the defensive action in the first. With a runner at second, the next batter — Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia — hit a screamer back to the mound that Chen deflected right towards shortstop J.J. Hardy. If Chen doesn’t get a glove on the ball, the fast Jacoby Ellsbury probably scores from second.
In the fifth, second baseman Omar Quintanilla made two diving stops on the outfield grass that were sandwiched around a triple by Pedroia. The latter play saved a run in a 1-1 ballgame.
The last big defensive play came in the sixth. With a runner on first, Boston catcher Ryan Lavarnway hit a ball to deep left field that tailed off on descent. Orioles left fielder Nate McLouth recorded the out by twisting at the warning track, his back crashing into the wall.
Teams in the AL East are going to get hits, almost without fail, no matter who is pitching. It’s just that type of division.
Chen gave up hits but had a good outing on Tuesday. The defense behind him had a big part in that.