Chen, O's Overcome Slow Start
Monday, September 12, 2005
SEATTLE, Sept. 11 -- Patience paid off for the Baltimore Orioles against rookie phenom Felix Hernandez.
Bruce Chen recovered from a shaky start and Baltimore roughed up Hernandez in a 6-3 victory Sunday over the Seattle Mariners.
The 19-year-old right-hander, who had a 1.59 ERA through his first seven starts, gave up five runs in the second inning. Bernie Castro and Melvin Mora each drove in two.
"To our credit, we laid off some pitches," Orioles interim manager Sam Perlozzo said. "They all had heard the hype, too. There was nothing really said about it, but you could tell in the dugout that they were going to take the game seriously."
The first three Baltimore batters reached safely in the second inning on a single by Jay Gibbons and walks to B.J. Surhoff and Alejandro Freire before David Newhan hit a sacrifice fly. After Sal Fasano struck out, Brian Roberts walked to load the bases again and Castro sliced a two-run double to left.
Mora followed with a two-run single -- he was thrown out in a rundown between first and second, but the Orioles had a 5-3 lead.
"He's nasty. But he just faced good hitters," Mora said of Hernandez. "He pitches like a veteran guy, but the thing is, sometimes you need to know about the other team."
Hernandez (3-3) had trouble with umpire Bruce Froemming's strike zone. The rookie entered with 10 walks in 51 innings but had three in the second alone and five in seven innings overall.
Hernandez allowed six runs and six hits. He said he thought the strike zone "was a little bit smaller today."
The Mariners scored three unearned runs in the first off Chen (12-9), who pitched six solid innings. Ichiro Suzuki opened with a soft single. Chen then hit Jamal Strong on the left hand with a pitch. Strong stayed in the game, but left in the second with a broken hand.
Richie Sexson walked to load the bases with one out. Adrian Beltre then chopped a ball to the left of the mound, and Chen bounced a throw to catcher Fasano for an error as Ichiro scored.
With two outs, Chen walked Jeremy Reed to force in Strong. A wild pitch made it 3-0, but Hernandez couldn't hold the lead.
Chen settled down after his teammates scored five runs in the second.
"That really helped me. I couldn't let them down," he said.
The Mariners nearly tied it in the second. Ichiro reached on a two-out single and Raul Ibañez lofted a high fly to right. Gibbons tracked it into the corner and caught it at the wall. Chen allowed four more hits after the first, but no runner advanced past second.
"Bruce just did a tremendous job coming back and settling down the rest of the way," Perlozzo said.
Todd Williams worked 1 2/3 scoreless innings before B.J. Ryan got three outs for his 31st save in 36 chances, striking out Beltre with two on to end it.