Playing interleague games in a National League park offers its share of obstacles, the main hurdle being pitchers suddenly forced to hit.
Normally AL pitchers don’t leave the dugout when their team is hitting. They sit on the bench, wrap their arm to keep it warm and concentrate on the next inning.
Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen – who had shut out the Giants for five innings and allowed just one hit over that time in the Orioles’ eventual 3-2 loss to San Francisco – was in the on-deck circle when the top of the sixth ended, then immediately went back to the mound and gave up three runs in the bottom half of the frame.
So can you correlate Chen’s rocky sixth with him being on the on-deck circle preparing for an at-bat just before.
“It might [affect] a guy who is not in very good shape or conditioned,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s one of our better conditioned athletes, very athletic. Certainly there [are] some situations that you don’t get faced with. And any time you are putting guys out of a routine there’s that potential, but I think that would be a convenient excuse.”
Chen didn’t use it as an excuse.
“Not at all. I think the big inning in the sixth, that’s all my fault because everything was high and I couldn’t tell the strike zone,” he said. “It is what it is. I have no complaint about it.
“I’m not going to lie to you I feel like that’s a little uncomfortable to me. I used to hit in Japan but I’ve been in the American league for two years. I rarely touched the bat. It was hard for me.”
** Orioles manager Buck Showalter dropped Nick Markakis to fifth in the batting order Saturday afternoon to give middle-of-the-order bats Adam Jones and Chris Davis a little extra protection with Matt Wieters out of the lineup.
Markakis did his share, going 3-for-4, but the bottom third of the Orioles order struggled, stranding a combined 14 baserunners in 11 plate appearances.
Part of the problem was Chen being forced to hit in an NL park. But second baseman Ryan Flaherty and catcher Taylor Teagarden were both 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. Teagarden, who is hitting .133 and has 17 strikeouts in 48 at-bats, was making his first start since Aug. 4 and just his second this month. Flaherty, who was the team's starting second baseman for much of Brian Roberts' time on the DL this season, made his first start since Aug. 3.
“Timing aspects are what I struggle with the most,” Teagarden said. "I’m facing guys I’ve never even seen before in my career, what pitches they have, get ready to hit at the same time. I’m just trying to do the best I can. I’m happy when I get in there. It is what it is. I try to battle.”
** On a side note, Chris Davis is just one homer away from tying Rafael Palmeiro for the third highest single-season home run total in franchise history. Brady Anderson holds the club mark with 51 homers in 1996, while Frank Robinson (1966) and Jim Gentile (1961) both hit 49 homers. Palmeiro hit 43 in 1998.