While the Baltimore Orioles' Wei-Yin Chen and Oakland Athletics' Tyson Ross may not be household names, they figure to receive their fair share of attention this year if they can build on their impressive early season efforts.
Chen and Ross square off on the mound as the Orioles and Athletics continue a three-game set Saturday night at Camden Yards.
Signed to a three-year deal out of Japan during the offseason, Chen (1-0, 2.60 ERA) has been a welcome addition to Baltimore's starting rotation. Five days after earning his first big-league win during a 3-2 road victory over the Chicago White Sox, Chen gave up one run and five hits over 6 1-3 innings in Sunday's 3-2, 10-inning win at the Los Angeles Angels.
"He got us deep in the ballgame and was able to get those big outs," closer Jim Johnson told the team's official website. "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."
The left-hander has struck out 15 over 17 1-3 innings while issuing six walks - three of which came against Los Angeles.
"We're still learning about him," manager Buck Showalter said. "(Sunday) the command was the thing. And quite frankly, he didn't get the benefit of a lot of borderline calls like (the Angels' Dan) Haren was getting, but he worked his way through that. When you're facing a guy like Haren with the strike zone that he's working with, you're going to have to be really good. And he was."
Ross (1-0, 2.13), who went 2-2 with a 2.61 ERA over six starts last year before suffering a strained left oblique and spending the rest of the season at Triple-A Sacramento, seems to be back on track.
"The ability is there," manager Bob Melvin said. "He was a high pick, he has good stuff and I've seen his confidence grow since spring training. It's a mindset that says 'here it comes.' That shows confidence in what he has."
Ross yielded one run, four hits and managed to overcome a career-worst five walks over 6 2-3 frames, in beating Cleveland 5-1 to celebrate his 25th birthday Sunday.
"This was definitely a good birthday," said Ross. "I'm kind of picking up where I left off before the injury last year."
The A's have won three straight after snapping Baltimore's (12-8) four-game run with Friday's 5-2 victory. Right fielder Josh Reddick and third baseman Eric Sogard both went deep as Oakland (11-10) moved above .500 for the first time this season.
Although the A's are batting a major league-worst .203 and just .191 with runners in scoring position, they've gone 5 for 13 (.385) in such situations during their winning streak - including a 2-for-4 effort Friday.
"We did maximize our offense today with the number of hits we got and that's the type of team we need to be," manager Bob Melvin said.
The Orioles, meanwhile, matched a season low with five hits and have lost 23 of 31 against Oakland.
Baltimore second baseman Robert Andino went 0 for 4 after he was reinstated from the paternity list following a two-game absence. While Johnson is also back with the team after spending four days at hospital due to food poisoning, his availability is unknown.