BALTIMORE — The Orioles’ lineup is one of the most dangerous in baseball, but the club scored more than three runs only four times in its first 12 games this season.
Some of those struggles can be attributed to tough pitching Baltimore has faced over the first two weeks, but on Monday night the hitters broke out against one of the best young pitchers in the American League East.
The Orioles had seven runs and 12 hits over five innings against Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Chris Archer — the most runs the 25-year-old has allowed in a single outing in 32 major league appearances — in a 7-1 win that was one of the club’s most complete wins of this young season.
And Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen had his best start so far this season, not allowing a hit until the fifth inning and holding the Rays to one run and five hits over 61 / 3 innings.
An announced crowd of 15,799 gave Chen a standing ovation as he exited the game in the seventh inning having completed his first quality start since last Sept. 7, a span of seven starts.
Archer, the third-place finisher in last year’s AL rookie of the year race, had allowed just 10 hits and two runs over his first two starts of the season.
The Orioles (6-7) sat on Archer’s mid-90s fastball and forced the Rays outfielders to chase balls in the gaps early in the night, posting five doubles over the first three innings, including two by shortstop J.J. Hardy, who had three hits.
Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, who entered the night with a career .333 batting average against Tampa Bay (7-7), had three hits and drove in the game’s first run with a two-out single in the bottom of the first. Five of Baltimore’s seven runs were scored with two outs.
Chen, who improved to 2-1 with the win, retired 13 of the first 14 hitters he faced before allowing his first hit of the game, a one-out double by James Loney in the fifth.
He entered the night having allowed 21 hits over 102 / 3 innings over his first two starts, but Chen established his fastball early in the count Monday against Tampa Bay, mixing in his breaking ball well in order to keep his pitch count low.
Third baseman Ryan Flaherty drove in a pair of runs off of Archer, including a one-out, opposite-field single into shallow left field vs. a shift in the second inning. Nelson Cruz and Chris Davis followed with back-to-back, run-scoring doubles to put the Orioles up 4-0.