That security blanked was stripped away Sunday, when the Taiwanese left-hander had to pitch on four days' rest — the norm in the big leagues. The 26-year-old responded with another solid outing in the Orioles' 3-2, 10th-inning victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
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Angel Stadium of Anaheim, 2000 E Gene Autry Way, Anaheim, CA 92806, USA
Chen's goal was to pitch seven innings Sunday. He didn't accomplish it, but he came close. He allowed just one run on one walk and five hits while striking out five through six full innings. He was forced to leave with one out in the seventh after walking consecutive batters and throwing 96 pitches. Still, the 6 1/3 innings marked Chen's longest outing as an Oriole.
"I accomplished my small goal already, but I still feel I could finish up strong," said Chen through interpreter Tim Lin. "Right now I pitched six innings really strong and I hope I can finish and then I have two walks, which is not what I want."
Chen (1-0, 2.60 ERA) didn't get a decision, but he kept the Orioles in the game — with some help from reliever Darren O'Day and a big double-play ball in the seventh. Chen has allowed 18 hits and six walks while striking out 15 batters in 17 1/3 innings. He continues to gain the respect of his teammates.
"He got us deep in the ballgame and was able to get those big outs," said Orioles closer Jim Johnson. "I think he has gotten better every time out since we first saw him. So we're really excited for him."
Roberts completes road trip with team
Last year, second baseman Brian Roberts stopped playing May 16 because of concussion symptoms and basically stayed away from the Orioles for the remainder of the year. He still hasn't played this season, but he's a much more visible part of the club.
Getting on several planes and traveling with the team on its first road trip was a big step for Roberts. He felt fine flying to Toronto and Chicago this week, so he and his doctor, concussion specialist Michael Collins, decided to keep him on the road with the flight to California.
"Once we got through Toronto and a couple days in Chicago and things were going pretty well, we kind of came to the conclusion that I could go back to Baltimore and probably do everything I normally do there and be totally fine or I could push it and come here," Roberts said while in Anaheim. "The upside was bigger to come here than going home. There was also a bigger downside, but we felt like this was a good time to continue to keep the foot on the pedal and keep going."
Roberts said he really didn't make the decision to stay with the team until Wednesday. The concern wasn't about the flight as much as it was about dealing with time changes and interruptions in schedule.
"Those things my doctor worries more about than actually getting on a plane," said Roberts, who is currently on the 15-day disabled list and has played in just 98 games in the past two-plus seasons. "Obviously, it is a quick trip [in and out], you have different game times, different sleep patterns. That's one of the things we are constantly trying to get better at. And one of the things you have to be able to overcome, doing those things over and over and over."
The next test for Roberts was Sunday night with the return, cross-country flight. He said he and Collins will again re-evaluate his situation early next week. There is no set timetable for his return to the diamond, but he continues to take batting practice and participate in fielding drills.
"Overall, pretty good, definitely a lot better than a month ago," Roberts said. "Obviously, I am not playing, so I am not exactly where I want to be, but the positives are much greater now than they were several weeks ago."
Johnson closing in on ignominious start
Infielder Nick Johnson has begun his Orioles career with an 0-for-23 skid — the second longest such streak for an Orioles position player in club history. The club record-holder is Ron Hansen, who was hitless in his first 25 at-bats from April 1958 to April 1960. The overall Orioles record is held by pitcher Wes Stock, who was hitless in his first 36 Orioles at-bats from April 23, 1959 through June 13, 1964.
"I have had a couple other [long] ones, but not to start the year. So yeah, it's tough," Johnson said. "You want to contribute. You want to get on base and score runs. So it's tough, but I have to keep working."
Johnson holds the longest hitless streak in the majors this season — the closest is Tampa Bay's Stephen Vogt, who was 0-for-12 before being sent to the minors. But Showalter said he is not worried about his 33-year-old veteran, who has 705 career hits.
"Nick's the type of guy you feel like when he gets his first hit he's gonna get about 10 in a row," Showalter said. "I don't care how long you have been playing or how experienced you are, you still get a little anxiety when you go through a period where you know you are a lot better than [how you're playing]. I still think as soon as Nick gets a couple good games under his belt, he'll be a real contributor for us."
Around the horn
Showalter said left fielder Nolan Reimold's neck spasms were improving and he could be ready to play Tuesday. "Boy I hope so," Showalter said. Reimold has been the club's hottest hitter, batting .370 with five homers and 10 RBIs in 46 at-bats. He has missed three of the past four games with the neck issue. … Nine of the Orioles' first 16 games have been decided by one or two runs. They are 7-2 in those games. … They had made errors in 11 of their last 12 games before Sunday, when they did not commit a miscue. The Orioles are 4-0 when not making an error. … Chen has increased his walk total in each start, from one to two to three. … Orioles pitchers went 37 innings without allowing a homer before Howie Kendrick hit one in the eighth.
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