In 'attack mode,' dominant Chen leaves Orioles outfielders little to do

The Orioles outfielders could've been picking daisies like they were back in Little League for most of Monday and it wouldn't have mattered. There wasn't much action past the infield with left-hander Wei-Yin Chen on the hill.

Each of the first 16 Phillies who stepped up to the plate failed to hit a ball past the infield dirt. Catcher Cameron Rupp's fly out to lead off the sixth marked the first instance an outfielder was called upon.


Chen matched the longest outing of his career, tossing eight shutout innings while allowing just three balls out of the infield in a 4-0 victory.

"Maybe my pitch selection was a little bit different than my previous games," Chen said. "With so many ground balls in the infield, I had to run so many times, so I kind of feel tired."


Chen registered three putouts covering first base as part of a stout defensive effort on his 12 induced ground balls. And he said he leaned on his slider more than usual to keep the Phillies' sputtering offense off the board.

In the lefty's sixth start of at least seven innings this season, he matched his season high in strikeouts with nine while limiting the Phillies to four hits and one walk. While Chen has shown the ability to pitch deep into games this season, he often hasn't been rewarded for doing so.

The past three times he tossed seven innings, the Orioles combined to score zero runs while he was in the game. Chen took the loss on all three occasions, and despite boasting a 3.21 ERA entering Monday's game, he had a 2-4 record to show for it.

"It's one of those things that if you're consistently pitching well, then those things work themselves out," manager Buck Showalter said. "Over the long haul, you'll get rewarded for it. He'll have an outing when he goes five and isn't real crisp and we'll score some runs and he'll get a W for it."

Before Monday, the Orioles were averaging 3.45 runs per game in Chen's 12 starts, the fewest among any pitcher who has started more than one contest. The four runs Monday, though, were plenty paired with his first start allowing no runs since Sept. 5, 2014.

"I can't win it by myself," Chen said. "We have to win the game by a whole team, so I just wanted to do my job.

The few times Chen allowed a runner to get on base, he buckled down to get a timely groundout or punch out. The only hit Chen allowed through the first five innings was Cesar Hernandez's bunt single to the lead off the fourth inning, and he immediately induced the next batter to hit into a double play.

Hernandez recorded Philadelphia's second hit in the seventh with a double to the gap in right-center. With the leadoff man standing on second, Chen struck out the final three batters of the inning.


And in the eighth, Chen stranded another runner on second to cap his outing. First, he caught Rupp looking for his ninth strikeout. Then he induced a harmless grounder to second before retreating to the dugout for the final time to a warm ovation.

"He was in attack mode," Showalter said. "He was really good."