He picked a particularly inopportune time to do both.
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- Wei-Yin Chen
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“We got our butts kicked tonight and there's no doubt about that. But it's over now,” Orioles catcher Matt Wieters said. “We're [looking] forward, and we're ready to go tomorrow. It's just a loss now. Whether we lost 2-1 or like we did tonight. It's one loss and we'll move forward.”
As a unit, the Orioles hadn't given up that many runs in a game this season, and the 11-run margin ties for the Orioles' worst blowout of 2013.
That's not exactly the way they drew up the beginning of this stretch run.
“I have to apologize to my team. I didn't want to hurt my team,” Chen said through interpreter Tim Lin. “I still have to keep my same approach and do my work, same preparation every day. … Nothing different, I just need to come back strong.”
The lopsided loss before an announced 36,226 dropped the Orioles (70-60) to 6 ½ games behind the Red Sox (78-55) in the division. They are 2-2 at Fenway Park this season after winning seven of nine from the Red Sox on the road in 2012.
This one lands squarely at the feet of Chen, the steady Taiwanese southpaw who had allowed more than three runs only twice in 16 previous outings this year and only 11 times in 48 career starts with the Orioles.
Tuesday, Chen allowed eight runs on eight hits, three walks and a hit batter in just 3 2/3 innings pitched. He had given up as many as five runs in a start this year only once previously before allowing five runs in the fourth inning alone. His season ERA jumped from 3.19 to 3.76.
Afterward, he called it “probably the worst game in my career.”
“It seemed like every time Wei-Yin made a mistake, he paid for it,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He jerked some balls across the plate and left some out over there where he usually doesn't do it. He's working on an extra days rest and he's carrying a lot of fastball, but just didn't command it very well at the level that we've been spoiled with by him all year.”
Things were rough for Chen (7-7) from the beginning. With one out in the first he walked Shane Victorino on five pitches. Dustin Pedroia doubled and David Ortiz hit a sacrifice fly for the first run of the evening.
The Red Sox scored again in the third when Victorino hit a two-run shot to left for his 10th homer of the season and 100th of his career. He would later add a three-run homer in the sixth against reliever Troy Patton — Victorino's second career multi-homer game — and a two-run double against Brian Matusz in the seventh.
Victorino, who set a career high with seven RBIs, also was plunked by a Chen pitch after his first homer. The Red Sox right fielder flipped the ball toward Chen as he jogged up the first base line and the Orioles lefty watched it roll.
“I don't want to comment on that. I know he's a really good athlete, but I'm a really good pitcher, too,” Chen said. “I didn't want to hit him. I didn't mean to hit him. But you can tell, I didn't have my command today. That ball just definitely was an accident.”
The fourth inning was particularly disastrous for Chen, who started the frame by allowing a double and then a monstrous two-run homer to Mike Napoli that cleared the Green Monster in left. Chen has permitted 12 homers this season, and six have come in his last three outings.
The Red Sox loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth — they actually helped Chen by running into an out on a rundown between second and third base — before Pedroia doubled two runners home. Chen intentionally walked David Ortiz and Patton gave up a two-run double to Jonny Gomes — with the runs being charged to Chen.
Twice last year, Chen allowed seven runs in a game. Once this season — on May 1 at Seattle — and once in 2012 Chen could only get through four innings.