BALTIMORE (Reuters) - Baltimore Orioles southpaw Chen Wei-yin opened his Major League Baseball career with a solid debut, giving up two earned runs and seven hits to the New York Yankees over five-plus innings in a narrow home defeat on Tuesday.
The Taiwanese rookie with impressive credentials from Japan’s Central League was pulled from the game with two outs in the sixth with the Orioles and the defending AL East champions locked at 4-4.
New York went on to win the game 5-4 in 12 innings with Orioles relief pitcher Pedro Strop taking the loss.
“This is a new experience to me,” Chen, the first player born in Taiwan to play for the Orioles, said through an interpreter.
“I pitched in Japan before, but this is totally new. The New York Yankees are a real tough lineup and a really good team, but tonight I realized our team is better.”
Chen, who struck out six while walking just one, was the victim of a costly error by third baseman Mark Reynolds in the sixth that opened the door for two unearned runs.
He threw 101 pitches, 59 of them strikes before 24,659 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
”If he pitches like he did tonight, he’ll have a lot of success,“ Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. ”His change-up was a good pitch for him tonight. He did a lot of different things with the baseball.
“Once he got the ball down, he makes quality pitches. He’ll get people out in America, Japan or Taiwan. He’s got a good arm, good arm action on all his pitches. So far, so good.”
Up to two million people were expected to watch Chen’s debut on television in Taiwan, which was carried live at 7 a.m. on three networks, the Orioles said, adding that 15 members of the media from nine Taiwanese outlets attended the game.
Chen, 26, was rocked early on a chilly night in Baltimore when Yankees lead-off hitter Derek Jeter belted a 3-1 pitch over the centerfield wall, the 25th time in his career the 12-time All-Star opened the game with a home run.
Nick Swisher followed Jeter’s homer with a double to center but Chen, who also hit Alex Rodriguez with a pitch later in the inning, then settled down.
“To be honest with you guys, this is my first major league outing,” Chen conceded to reporters. “I was so nervous. But after the first inning, everything was fine for me.”
Over five seasons with the Central League’s Dragons, Chen had a 36-30 record with a 2.59 ERA, and in 2009 posted a league-leading 1.54 earned run average.
In January, the Orioles signed Chen to a three-year contract with a club option for 2015.
Showalter said Chen “pitched well, especially after the way things started”.
”You can tell one thing, he’s got some toughness about him,“ Showalter added. ”He got better as the game went on, against obviously a very potent lineup. He presented himself real well. I was proud of him.
“A lot of things could have gotten away from him, but he handled himself well. Pretty impressive, a 26-year-old man making his debut in that environment.”
Editing by John O'Brien