NEW YORK – Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen thought he had pretty good stuff on Sunday afternoon, but his career-high five walks over four innings in the club’s 7-3 win over the Yankees would indicate otherwise.
After the outing, Chen said through interpreter Tim Lin that he believed his strike zone was getting pinched by home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg, but he didn’t use that as an excuse.
“This is a part of baseball,” Chen said through Lin. “Sometimes when I throw right in the middle of home plate, the umpire didn’t pick it up. Sometimes, the strike zone was a little small today.”
Chen has experienced some control issues of late. He’s issued three or more walks in each of his last three starts. And partially because of that, his past two starts have been his two shortest of the season. He lasted just four innings and allowed three runs on Sunday and lasted a career-worst 3 2/3 innings Tuesday in Boston, tying a career-high with eight runs allowed in a 13-2 rout at the hands of the Red Sox.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who has tried to give Chen extra rest since his return from the DL just before the All-Star break, said he believed the humidity Sunday might have affected Chen, who battled through some long innings and tedious at-bats full of foul balls.
"When a guy fouls a ball straight back, he's missed the whole width of the ball,” Showalter said. “He's got the timing of the pitch, but not the location where it is. There's a fine line. A lot of close pitches. He had 80-some pitches in four innings. I thought about letting him go back out there, but I just felt like he was spent there. It was a really sticky day, too.”
With just one off day left in the regular season, Chen will likely have to pitch on regular rest through the remainder of the season. But Chen believes he can work out the problems of his last two outings.
“Even though I’ve had the two bad starts, like I still have the confidence in me,” he said. “I gave out a lot of free passes today. The last time, I gave out free passess, too. This is the thing I need to work on. Next time, I believe I will bounce back, and we’ll see.”