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September 26, 2017

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Rookie Chen ties series for Orioles

With the burden of Taiwanese fan speculation, sitting one game down in the series and as a first-timer in the Major League Baseball (MLB) postseason, rookie Wei-Yin Chen delivered an astonishing performance on Monday, leading the Baltimore Orioles to a 3-2 win against the New York Yankees. The victory allowed the Orioles to tie with the Yankees in the American League Division Series, forcing a Game 4.

Despite not earning a win in his last seven games, the Taiwanese lefty battled through the night for a total of 6 1/3 innings, turning in a career-high 112 pitches. The Yankees produced a one-run lead in the first inning after a close scramble at the plate where batter Ichiro Suzuki dodged catcher Matt Weiters not once, but twice before the umpire ruled him safe.

However, this was not enough to inflict damage on the O's and Chen only allowed one more run after Derek Jeeter hit an RBI single at the top of the seventh inning. The crowd couldn't be more deafening as they cheered on Chen's first strikeout of the postseason, after Yankees batter Curtis Granderson struck out swinging.

"I feel pretty good, a little different. I mean, its the MLB, of course it's going to be different," Chen said, "I just hope the effort I put in will help my teammates win the games."

Chen, the only Orioles pitcher to have more than 20 starts this season, would round the night with three strikeouts, allowing one earned run, eight hits and a walk before retiring at the top of the seventh inning. He received a standing ovation as he headed toward the bullpen and the modest Taiwanese pitcher tipped his hat to the crowd to show gratitude. This also marked the first Taiwanese MLB pitcher to bag a win in his first postseason appearance.

"I'm really proud of Wei-Yin. All year long, you think of all the challenges I've been with him since day one of spring training. His teammates have done a great job at making his path easier, making me feel good," said General Manager Buck Showalter.

The O's rallied from a 0-1 game deficit in the series, clawing their way to clutch the critical win with equal deliverance from offensive plays and the pitching mound. The Yankees fell into a tight jam with bases loaded after pitcher Andy Pettitte gave up a walk for Orioles' J.J Hardy in the third inning. The walk proved to be fatal as Chris Davis drove in an RBI double, gaining the O's a 2-1 lead.

Chen gratefully thanked his teammates, contributing most of his accomplishments to Weiters. "I kept the ball low and listened to Weiter's signals. He helped me on the field a lot. I got a lot of help from the defense and offensive plays, so that I could just focus entirely on pitching. I didn't need to think too much," Chen said.

The Baltimore Orioles will head to Yankee Stadium to finish the best-of-five series.

"There's no Game 5 here in Baltimore," center fielder Adam Jones said. "We got to go out there and take care of business. It's not easy, but postseason isn't easy. This is what we have to overcome."

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