Orioles rookie left-hander Wei-Yin Chen doesn’t often show his emotions on the mound. And that makes it even more notable when he does, like when he abruptly yelled after being called for a balk in his last outing Tuesday.
If you're into flashy, Chen can't do much for you. Even on a day in which his 12 strikeouts Sunday broke Chien-Ming Wang’s major league record for most strikeouts in a single game by a Taiwanese pitcher, it was business as usual.
Asked after the game if he considered himself a strikeout pitcher, he calmly said through interpreter Tim Lin, “I really [need to] lower my pitch count to win the game."
And after Chen won just his second decision in his past six, teammates and coaches talked about the quiet competitiveness of the 27-year-old rookie.
“He's handled himself well and he's been consistent for the most part,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He's a real competitive guy. Every once in a while it'll slip out publicly. He holds himself to high standards. I see the work he does between starts to be there for his team. And he likes to win. He doesn't just like to win the day that he pitches. He likes the Orioles to win. And he's been fun to watch."
After watching starters try to be too fine with their control, it was refreshing to see Chen’s aggressiveness to throw strikes. It was important to see his confidence in his fastball and his ability to locate it where he wanted. And it was key to see Chen able to throw his change-up and slider early and late in the counts.
And while Showalter was hesitant to put the No. 1 pitcher tag on Chen, especially while right-hander Jason Hammel is out recovering from knee surgery, Chen is the only Orioles starting pitcher who has remained in the rotation since Opening Day.
“We definitely feel that when he goes on the mound he has that competitive spirit to where anytime we’ve needed a big win or a big game, he’s stepped up for us and been able to give us a good chance to win,” Orioles catcher Matt Wieters said. “I think his mentality is that he doesn’t get too caught up in the moment, he’s able to stay focused and at the same time, he knows when it’s a big situation and when it’s time to step up.”Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times