Chen's slider helps Orioles knot up series

October, 9, 2012
10/09/12
1:18
AM ET

Rob Carr/Getty ImagesBaltimore Orioles pitcher Wei-Yin Chen became only the fifth Orioles starting pitcher to win his postseason debut, while also allowing two runs or fewer.

The Baltimore Orioles tied their American League Division Series at one apiece with a 3-2 win against the New York Yankees on Monday.

Leading the way was Orioles rookie Wei-Yin Chen, who allowed two runs (one earned) in 6 1/3 innings to earn his first win since Aug. 19 (Chen was 0-4 in his previous seven starts).

One key to Chen’s success Monday? His slider.

Chen threw 21 sliders, matching his second-highest total of the year, and got a season-high seven outs with the pitch. The Yankees put nine of Chen's sliders in play, hitting eight on the ground and popping up the other on the infield.

He went to his slider more as the game went on. The first time through the order, Chen threw his slider 11 percent of the time (four sliders out of 36 pitches). He doubled his slider usage the next two-plus times through the order, accounting for 22 percent of his pitches in that stretch.

And when Chen left the game, the Orioles' bullpen finished strong, with three pitchers combining for 2 1/3 scoreless innings with four strikeouts.

In one of the biggest moments of the game, Brian Matusz came on in relief and got the job done for the Orioles.

With runners at second and third (who advanced from first and second base on his own wild pitch), Matusz got Nick Swisher to fly out to end the seventh inning.

Swisher fell to 1-for-20 in his career against Matusz (regular season and postseason combined), and is just 1-for-33 in his postseason career with runners in scoring position.

Matusz has simply reinvented himself, going from a bad starter (5.42 ERA, 6.6 strikeouts/nine innings, 1.71 WHIP this season) to a dominant reliever (1.13 ERA, 13.5 strikeouts/nine innings, 0.69 WHIP).

How they got A-Rod out
Alex Rodriguez struck out to end Game 2 and is now 1-for-9 with five strikeouts in the series.

This marked the fourth time that Rodriguez has struck out to end a postseason game, the most game-ending whiffs in postseason history.

Rodriguez has missed on 11 of his 23 swings this postseason. He has missed on four of five swings against breaking balls, including the slider on which Darren O’Day struck him out during the Yankees' seventh-inning scoring threat.

The Orioles have done a nice job working the edges of the plate. They’ve thrown 40 of their 47 pitches to Rodriguez in this series to the inner-third (or off the inside corner) or the outer-third (or off the outside corner) of home plate.

Rodriguez hit .227 in at-bats that ended with pitches to those edges during the regular season, with a miss rate of 28 percent. That miss rate ranked second worst of the 13 Yankees with the most plate appearances during the regular season, trailing only Curtis Granderson’s 31 percent.

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