MINNEAPOLIS — The Orioles played one of their better all-around games of the young season Sunday, using three homers and strong pitching to shut out the Minnesota Twins, 6-0, while capturing their ninth series victory in 12 opportunities.
“I don’t even want to think about it,” said Orioles first baseman Chris Davis.
Chen, who is 3-3 with a 3.04 ERA in eight starts in 2013, left Sunday after five shutout innings with a soreness in his right side that he and Orioles manager Buck Showalter hope was a cramp, but initially has been diagnosed as a right oblique strain.
He’ll be re-evaluated Monday and the club will have a better idea whether he can make his next start or if Chen will have to be placed on the 15-day disabled list — which would be a big blow to an already uncertain rotation.
“Let's wait and see,” Showalter said after Sunday’s victory that gave the Orioles a 3-3 season split with the Twins. “I'm going to think good things. I was just telling Wei-Yin that. [His side] feels a little better now.”
Chen allowed five hits while walking none and striking out three for his third win in four decisions before feeling a pain he described as “soreness.”
“It’s never happened to me before and I can tell I had a really good first four innings and I definitely feel good physically,” Chen said through interpreter Tim Lin. “Unfortunately, in the fifth inning, I don’t know what happened.”
By the time Chen left, the Orioles (23-15) had a five-run lead and were heading toward their seventh victory in 10 games. The scoring was paced by home runs from Adam Jones, Steve Pearce and Davis against Twins starter Scott Diamond (3-3).
Davis’ 442-foot, two-run blast off the batter’s eye wall in straightaway center gave the Orioles a lead in the first that they never relinquished.
“It was a very clean game,” said Davis, who drove in three more runs and now has 37 RBIs and 11 homers this season. “We have been swinging the bats well the last few days. Feels good to win the game by a pretty big margin.”
Perhaps the biggest offensive star was — again — the afternoon’s youngest: Orioles’ 20-year-old third baseman Manny Machado, who had three of the club’s 11 hits. He had nine hits in 16 at-bats in the three-game series against the Twins and is now hitting .405 (34-for-84) in his past 19 games, which have included 12 multi-hit efforts.
“I’m not even paying much attention to it. I don’t look up there and see what I’m hitting,” said Machado, who is batting .331 on the season. “Things are going right. It’s one of those times when things are falling for you and everything is going good. Things have been going pretty good for me.”
Call that an understatement.