Breaking down the Orioles two-game stand against the Phillies at Camden Yards.
Game 1: 4-0 win on Monday night (June 15)
Game 2: 19-3 win on Tuesday night (June 16)
What I liked:
1. The offense in Game 2 – The O’s blasted a franchise-record eight homers, totaled 17 hits and eight walks and went 6-for-14 with runners in scoring position. Five of the homers came off reliever Dustin McGowan. Manny Machado and Chris Parmalee, who was selected from Triple-A Norfolk earlier in the day, each had two homers and combined for seven hits.
2. The bullpen – Orioles relievers were great for a fifth straight series, combining for four more scoreless innings.
What I didn’t like:
The Wei-Yin Chen situation – Chen had his best outing of the season in Game 1, recording nine strikeouts over eight scoreless innings. He gave up just four hits and one walk. And perhaps most importantly, Chen gave the bullpen some much-needed rest, as he snapped a streak of eight games in which Orioles starters had not lasted more than 5 2/3 innings.
It’s on Tuesday that things got tricky. The O’s optioned Chen to Single-A Frederick as the corresponding roster move to selecting Parmelee from Triple-A Norfolk. While this on the surface seems odd given Chen’s status as a staple in the Orioles’ rotation, this is the type of thing that the O’s have done for years under Buck Showalter: put aside ego and take advantage of player options to maximize roster flexibility. But Chen’s agent, Scott Boras, told The Baltimore Sun, “This is a 16-game winner who on [Monday] threw eight scoreless innings and has a sub-3.00 ERA. To disrupt a season like this for a pitcher of Chen’s status and to disrupt his routine, which is so important for a starting pitcher, is grossly irregular. I’ve never seen anything like this in the sport of baseball in my 30 years of doing this.” Buck said that the main reasons for demoting Chen was that he complained of fatigue after his June 10 start and he pitches better with extra rest. Chen tweeted his disappointment: “I am in excellent physical shape. I feel great and I am ready for my next start. I just pitched 8 innings of shutout baseball. I am disappointed my routine is being interrupted. I will continue to work hard and do my best to perform. Thank you for all the support!”
It’s also worth noting that Parmelee could have opted out of his minor-league contract but chose not to when the O’s agreed to add him to the roster and that he, like Chen, is represented by Boras.
Boras likes to complain (see the Kris Bryant situation with the Cubs earlier this season), so I don’t take much from his comments. He and Chen should both be quiet. As I said, the O’s have done things like this for years under Buck. What’s interesting is that Chen is scheduled to be a free agent after this season. I didn’t expect him back before this given the Orioles’ penchant for not spending big money (they’ll do so, but not often), and I have even lower expectations now.
Chris Tillman’s start in Game 2 – In a game in which the O’s led 6-0 after one inning and 12-0 after three innings, Tillman lasted for six innings, giving up three runs. Was he awful? No. But this was a game that screamed for the Orioles’ starter to throw strikes, eat up innings. and give the bullpen some rest. Instead, Tillman was inefficient (96 pitches over the six innings), and the O’s had to use three relievers in a blowout win. Tillman now has a 5.58 ERA and 1.55 WHIP over 13 starts.