And after his team-leading ninth win in the Orioles’ 4-3 victory Thursday at Camden Yards over the Washington Nationals, Chen acknowledged his stellar first half.
“Of course I am happy, because this is the first time during my career, including my career in Japan, the first time before the All-Star break that I can get that many wins,” he said through an interpreter. “So I’m pretty happy.”
Chen’s previous best before the All-Star break was seven wins, in 2012.
The left-hander exited Thursday’s game with two outs in the sixth inning, finishing the night having allowed three runs on eight hits while striking out six batters. He didn’t issue a walk.
“Wei-Yin’s a strike thrower,” center fielder Adam Jones said. “He goes and attacks the hitters and uses the defense like he did tonight. You see what kind of swings he gets, and you’ll see him dip into that seventh, eighth inning. We love what he brings to this team, we love his [guts] that he shows every time he goes out there and takes the ball.”
After facing the minimum through three innings, Chen got himself into trouble in the fourth. He yielded a single to Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon, then hit a batter and allowed an RBI line drive to designated hitter Ryan Zimmerman.
In the sixth, Chen gave up a home run on an 0-2 count after leaving a hanging curveball to right fielder Jayson Werth. his ended after two doubles scored the Nationals’ third run.
Reliever Tommy Hunter got the final out of the sixth inning to keep Chen in line for the win.
“Maybe later in the game, some of the hitters were sitting on my fastballs,” Chen said. “Later in the game, my command wasn't as sharp as the first part of the game. I think that’s why they squared up the ball hard.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter acknowledged that wins aren’t the best way to judge Chen’s success, since they are dependent on too many variables beyond a pitcher’s control. He has gone seven full innings only three times this year, and not since June 11.
But with some improvement, Showalter believes Chen soon could reach a higher level.
“Wei-Yin's so close [to] going seven or eight innings, but it's the consistency of the off-speed pitches that keeps him from quite making that last jump,” Showalter said. “But they've gotten better a little more consistently.”