|Andy Petitte||Bruce Chen|
|3 - 6, 3.43||5 - 4, 3.61|
So, the man who is tied with Dan Schneider for the title of 14th-worst relief specialist* in Astros history has gone and made himself useful. Bruce Chen, who not only failed with Houston, but with Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, as well, carries a better-than-league median 3.61 earned run average into tonight's fray for the Orioles. And not only that, but Chen has beaten both the hated Yankees and the dreaded Red Sox so far this year!
Chen is no comeback player, because he was never anyplace that he could come back to. His ERA in 1999 was 5.47. After a pretty good 2000, Chen has since seen stints around the majors that clocked in with ERAs at 4.68, 5.00, 4.31, 6.99, 5.11, and the 6.00 he posted with Houston in 2003.
To be more accurate, this renaissance really started late last year, when he made seven starts for the O's beginning August 25. But regardless of when the turnaround actually started, the man has made a complete break with his history. His complete-game four-hitter April 15 vs. the Yankees, while maybe lacking late season drama, was the kind of game that aces pitch, a dominant statement that set the tone for his teammates to emulate in the three-game sweep that followed.
Perhaps it's a fluke. Perhaps it's the Ray Miller Midas touch. But the stability that the Orioles have received from Chen in the fifth slot is I'm sure quite envied in clubhouses across the majors.
The loss of your matriarchal kitty-cat is something that can keep you from your appointed hours of sleep, let me tell you. While I'm much more than simply wishful of a Pettitte victory, it's gonna have to happen in the absence of any game thread from me, as I've just got to catch up on the Zees.
If you're reading this, I hope you enjoy this evening's game.
* Going by straight ERA, no starts, minimum 10 innings. Chen and Schneider each have a 6.-flat.