Chen lasted just 5 1/3 innings but held the Red Sox to three runs on nine hits, striking out five and walking one in the Orioles' 6-5 win over Boston.
Chen left the game with a 4-3 lead, a runner on second and one out in the sixth. Josh Stinson escaped the sixth, but allowed two runs (one unearned) in the seventh. The Orioles regained the lead on Steve Pearce’s two-run double in the eighth.
“This is the last start for this year,” Chen said through interpreter Tim Lin. “I definitely wanted to finish on a good note and finish strong. This year, you can tell, there were a lot of ups and downs, so that’s a lesson I have to learn and improve. And next year, I’ll come back stronger.”
Chen (7-7), who led last year’s club with 12 wins and 192 2/3 innings, ended the season with no-decisions in each of his past six starts. He also lost four of his past five decisions dating to the beginning of August.
Over Chen’s past 10 starts, he was 1-3 with 5.55 ERA.
In his first 13 starts of the season, Chen recorded five starts of seven or more innings. But over his final 10 starts, he reached seven innings just once and twice wasn’t able to get an out in the fifth inning.
That was partially because of inflated pitch counts that prompted early exits.
When Chen goes seven or more innnings, the Orioles are 13-2 and Chen is 11-1. When he goes five innings or fewer, the Oriole are 3-10.
An oblique strain cost Chen nearly two months from mid-May to mid-July. But Chen allowed three or fewer runs in 11 of his first 12 starts, including a five-start span from July 10 to Aug. 4 in which he went seven or more innings four times.
“This is really important to me, to not only go deep but also to limit my pitch count,” Chen said through Lin. "I wasted too [many pitches] in the first couple innings, and this is a lesson I have to learn. This is my priority next spring, to go deeper as a starter and also just limit my pitch count.
“I can tell there’s a lot of stuff I can work on. I can't tell you here, but I definitely will work harder and get stronger next year."