04/22/12 8:59 PM ET
Showalter believes O's will improve their D
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
"It's a break from the norm," manager Buck Showalter said. "Most of them have been throwing errors, probably the last six or seven have been all throwing errors. Some of them by pitchers, too, which is never something you want to see. An error's an error, but some things that are a little uncharacteristic, I think, that time will shore up."
The Orioles had 110 errors as a team last season, posting a .982 fielding percentage, just under the American League average at .983. Of those errors, 31 were from third baseman Mark Reynolds -- who had the most in the AL - and Baltimore did have two Gold Glove winners in outfielder Nick Markakis and catcher Matt Wieters. J.J. Hardy also had an excellent year defensively, finishing third in the league with just one error as a shortstop, and Showalter said Sunday morning that he believes the overall team defense will get better.
"It falls under the 'no [kidding]' category," Showalter said. "They get it, they are aware of it. We talk about it every day in some form or fashion. Guys [were] out here the last two days early working on things. It's something that we continue to work on. It was one of our strengths last year. Basically, we had a lot of the same people. And it will be a strength again before it's over."
The Orioles, who have seven players with multiple errors this season, started Sunday's game against the Angels with a pair of nice defensive plays. Endy Chavez made a running backhanded grab to rob Albert Pujols of an extra-base hit in left field in the first inning and third baseman Wilson Betemit barehanded a ball to throw out the speedy Peter Bourjos to end the second.
Showalter ejected for first time this season
ANAHEIM -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter was ejected two outs into the sixth inning of Sunday's game against the Angels. Showalter was tossed by home-plate umpire Angel Campos immediately after coming onto the field to voice his displeasure on the first strike called on Nick Markakis, who went on to go 2-for-4 with three RBIs in Baltimore's 3-2 win over the Angels.
"It puts a little fire in you," Markakis said of watching Showalter take a bullet for the team. "Buck's here to protect us. That's his job, it's what he does. And you have to go out there and keep battling. And when you get put in a situation like [the eighth and 10th innings] it makes you want to do a little more."
Replays showed the first pitch by Angels starter Dan Haren was outside, in the other batter's box, and Showalter spoke with Campos and crew chief Dale Scott for several minutes after he was ejected.
"You share your players frustration," said Showalter, who recorded his first ejection this season with his team trailing 1-0. "You can feel it in the dugout. There was so much focus on the strike zone that we were forgetting a little bit, not forgetting, but it was taking away from the competition.
"You know, I'm not going to complain, but when you have the number of people that we do complain that don't ever complain ... "I had been looking at it for a while and sometimes you have to take that bullet."
Sunday marked the 20th ejection of Showalter's career -- and came on the heels of him voicing his displeasure over the strike zone in the first two games of the series, both won by the Angels.
Asked if he was worried that Markakis, who spoke with Campos after the first strike called in the 10th, would join him in the clubhouse Showalter said, "Oh, yeah. Take your pick. About six or seven, six people [unhappy with the strike zone]. There were more pitches than six, I can tell you that."
No win, but Chen looks like a winner
ANAHEIM -- Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen turned in his best effort this season in Sunday's 3-2, 10-inning win, holding the Angels to just one run in the no-decision.
"His fastball was crisper," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "Especially when you get them younger like 26, sometimes the arm strength develops even more, but command was the thing. Quite frankly, he didn't get the benefit of a lot of borderline calls like [Angels starter Dan] Haren was, but he was able to work through that. He was the difference today."
Chen, fresh off his first career Major League victory, tossed a season-high 6 1/3 innings and successfully pitched on four days' rest for the first time this season. Signed to a three-year deal this winter out of Japan, Chen had pitched on extra rest in his two previous starts and Showalter said the team will look to give him extra days - since Japan uses a five-day rest period -- whenever possible this season.
"Physically, I feel very strong and very good," Chen said through his interpreter. "The past two days I watched a lot of hitters and [thought], 'How different can I pitch?' I feel like I used all of my pitches very well and it was successful for a win."
Chen allowed a fourth-inning run on Alberto Callaspo's bloop RBI single, but largely held the Angels in check, twice striking out Albert Pujols and holding the Nos. 2-5 batters hitless. The lefty struck out five and was charged with five hits and three walks, two of which came in his final frame, as Chen issued back-to-back, one-out free passes to Callaspo and Bobby Wilson. That was enough for bench coach John Russell -- the acting manager with after Showalter was ejected -- who sent in reliever Darren O'Day to induce an inning-ending double-play ball from Peter Bourjos.
"He got us deep in the ballgame and was able to get those big outs," Orioles closer Jim Johnson said. "He battled all day and I think he has gotten better every time out since we first saw him. So we're really excited for him."
"Chen did a great job," added right fielder Nick Markakis, who drove in all three Orioles runs. "He pounded the strike zone. He gave us a chance and we ended up getting in some big situations at the end of the game, and it ended up working out for us."
Chen threw 58 of his 96 pitches for strikes in his third start of the season, lowering his ERA to 2.60 in the process. A Taiwan native, Chen has allowed seven runs (five earned) on 18 hits and six walks with 15 strikeouts over his first 17 1/3 Major League innings.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.