ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Wei-Yin Chen is probably in his final weeks with the Orioles. A pending free agent, Chen has perhaps two starts remaining for the Orioles.
In his years, the Orioles have two postseason appearances, and in most games, Chen has kept his team in the game.
It certainly was true on Saturday night as Chen worked a solid seven innings in the Orioles’ 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays before 17,053 at Tropicana Field.
Chen (10-7) allowed a run on six hits without walking a batter. He struck out seven and hit a batter. He’s 45-31 in his career.
“It’s hard to do, especially when you’ve been around the league a long as he ha, and everybody know what he’s going to do, and he’s got one of the higher percentages of fastballs,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Chen has 19 quality starts this season.
“Of course I am happy I can have that number,” Chen said through his translator, “but we’ve still got a couple of games left in the season, and I hope I can push that number up.”
Chen is likely to command a contract that far exceeds what the Orioles will be willing to pay him, but he doesn’t want to talk money now.
“That doesn’t really change anything for me because we are still in the season. And every time I go out there I just want to pitch a good game and so I don’t want to think about that during the season,” Chen said.
He’s happy to let Scott Boras, who represents him, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters, handle negotiations.
“They will do everything for me after the season o I don’t want to worry about that,” Chen said.
Manny Machado bunted for a base hit with one out off Erasmo Ramirez in the first. Davis doubled Machado to third. Machado scored on Adam Jones’ grounder to short.
The Rays (71-77) tied it in the bottom of the first on Brandon Guyer’s leadoff single and a run-scoring double by Richie Shaffer.
Davis doubled to lead off the sixth and scored on Jones’ single to give the Orioles (73-75) a 2-1 lead.
After the first inning, Chen allowed two hits until the seventh. Asdrubal Cabrera and James Loney singled, but Chen got out of the inning, ending it with a strikeout of Joey Butler.
Ramirez allowed two runs on nine hits in seven innings.
Darren O’Day hit Grady Sizemore in his right knee with one out in the eighth. Mikie Mahtook ran for him. Mahtook tried to steal second, but Evan Longoria was called out by home plate umpire Dale Scott for interfering with Wieters’ throw.
“Longoria took a swing, and he hit me with the backswing first. I think the umpire saw that. He also crossed the plate and that’s what he called, so that means Longoria is out and the runner has to go back to first,” Wieters said.
Then, Mahtook, who was sent back to first, tried again with Logan Forsythe batting and was thrown out ending the eighth.
“I thought if he was going to be aggressive with one of their best hitters up, he was probably going to try and take off again with Forsythe,” Wieters said.
O’Day was able to get out of a challenging eighth.
“It was an interesting inning, for sure,” O’Day said.
He wasn’t as certain of the rule as Wieters was.
“Obviously, I’m in favor of it. It helped me out in a tough situation,” O’Day said.
Zach Britton, who had three days off after pitching three in a row, pitched a perfect ninth for his 34th save. Jonathan Schoop made a great play to end the game when he backhanded Tim Beckham’s grounder behind second base.
The Orioles remain mathematically alive in the wild card hunt. They remain 4 ½ games behind Houston.
“That’s why we are here to play and try to get into the playoffs,” Schoop said. “We need to keep pushing and try to win as many games as we can and make a push for it.”
There are 14 games left, and the Orioles will try and win their fourth consecutive series with a win on Sunday.
“We’re realistic,” O’Day said. “We need to win every one of them. We knew we were a better team than what we were showing for a while. We’re playing better baseball. We’re going to play close game, especially with these guys, and you’ve got to win those close games to win the series.”
NOTES: Bowie beat Reading 7-2 to win the deciding fifth game of the Eastern League championship. It’s the Baysox’s first title. … Jonathan Schoop has a 12-game hitting streak. … Kevin Gausman (3-6, 4.15) pitches against Jake Odorizzi (8-8, 3.26) at 1:10 p.m. on Sunday.
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