O's back Tyler Wells with big-inning in series-clinching win (updated)

The Orioles offense took a while to get going today. But right-hander Tyler Wells was pretty good almost from the first pitch.

Wells held Kansas City's offense in check before his hitters could provide a big inning for Baltimore in the series finale.

The Orioles beat the Royals, 6-1, to win their fourth series of the year and to complete a 6-4 homestand. They are 12-17 for the year and have won four of five, six of nine and are 9-9 over their last 18 games.

The Orioles, who begin a road trip in St. Louis tomorrow, closed out this quick rain-delayed two-day, three-game set with a win and are 3-1-1 in their past five series.

Wells allowed a first-inning run when leadoff batter Bobby Witt Jr. singled, stole second and scored on Ryan O’Hearn’s two-out single to right-center. Then he shut down the Royals over the next five innings, needing just 49 pitches from the second inning on.

Wells did not walk a batter for the fourth start in a row. He improved to 1-2 and lowered his ERA to 3.75 with a career-long outing. It was his first six-inning game since Aug. 25, 2018 when he was in Double-A. He gave up five hits and the one run, with three strikeouts on 75 pitches.

O’s starters allowed just five earned runs in 19 1/3 innings this series, recording three quality starts. The team had just three quality starts all year before Sunday. O's starters now have a 2.81 home ERA. Wells has allowed just four earned runs in his past three games over 16 innings.

The Orioles were held scoreless on three hits by Kansas City right-hander Carlos Hernández through the fourth. But an inning later, they broke through and scored six runs. A double by struggling catcher Anthony Bemboom and another stolen base by Jorge Mateo were key in that rally.

With one out in the fifth, Tyler Nevin walked. Then Bemboom, batting just .114 at first pitch, doubled into the right-field corner on a splitter up in the zone, sending Nevin to third. With the infield in, No. 9 hitter Jorge Mateo lined a 98 mph single to left, tying the game at 1-1 and leaving runners on the corners. Then, Mateo’s speed helped the O’s get a 2-1 lead. He stole second as catcher MJ Melendez airmailed the throw into center, scoring Bemboom on a stolen-base, E2 for the lead. It was Mateo’s ninth steal in 10 tries. When Trey Mancini lined a two-out single to center, the O’s lead grew to 3-1 on his 10th RBI of 2022.

But they were not nearly done in that inning.

Hernández walked Anthony Santander and hit Austin Hays, who was already 2-for-2 in the game, to load the bases. A wild pitch scored Mancini and it was 4-1. Then Ryan Mountcastle’s two-run single into center made it a six-run inning and a 6-1 lead. The O's scored the last four runs in that inning with two outs.

Hays continued his hot hitting today, going 2-for-3 with a double and run. He is 12-for-21 in his past six games and batting .463 (19-for-41) in his past 11 games. Mancini had three hits and the O's went 3-for-5 with runners in scoring position during their big rally.

Right-hander Félix Bautista replaced Wells, pitching a 1-2-3 seventh with a pair of strikeouts. His fastball averaged 99 mph that frame, topping at 101.4 mph. Paul Fry started the eighth and was pulled with bases loaded and two outs for Joey Krehbiel, who got the final out to maintain the five-run lead. Jorge Lopez got the last three outs of the game. 

The Orioles are 9-7 at home for the season and 16-6 at home versus Kansas City since 2015. The Royals (9-17) have lost seven of nine and 12 of their past 16 games.

O’s pitching allowed just three runs as they won the last two games in this series. The O’s now head to St. Louis and Detroit for a six-game road trip, beginning Tuesday night.

A few final notes and quotes:

Wells is the first Orioles starting pitcher to not issue a walk in four straight games since Tommy Milone from Aug. 2-19, 2020. He recorded a career-high 11 swings and misses.

* Bautista threw 101.4 mph and 100.8 mph fastballs in the seventh inning, the two fastest pitches by an Oriole this season.

* Mountcastle has recorded an RBI in five consecutive games and that is tied for the longest active streak in MLB entering play today.

Manager Brandon Hyde on Wells: “We put a 75-pitch mark on him going into today and he hit it right on the nose. Really efficient innings, two through six. Just really had traffic a little bit in the first, a runner in scoring position in the sixth and that was pretty much it. Was in command. Very few stressful innings in between. Love to see the way he threw the ball.

“Tyler gets the credit. But everyone has done a good job of building him up to this point. Pitching guys have been fantastic, strength and conditioning, etc. It’s not easy doing what he is doing. It’s not easy transitioning from the bullpen to a starter, not pitching the two years prior to that. And to post every five or six days like Tyler is doing right now. That’s why we are monitoring it so closely. Because we care so much about the kid and we believe in him going forward.”

Hyde on the six-run inning: “It started off with a walk. That is huge. Nev having a really good at-bat there, starting it off with a walk. Boomer finding a hole and getting that double. Mateo with a two-strike single, making things happen. His speed is a huge factor, game-changing. Mancini with a great piece of hitting. Mountcastle with a two-strike single and putting the balls in play with runners in scoring position.”

Wells on his day: “Knowing that they don’t strike out a lot, you know, it’s really kind of making sure I’m mixing my pitches well. Not trying to strike guys out. Trying to get quick outs. We have a whole infield and outfield for that. Ced’s amazing catch and the infield has been picking me up a lot. … Since Tommy John surgery, I guess six innings and a quality start is what you could consider a milestone. But the way I’m looking at it is just make sure that I go out there and give my team a chance to win and that is exactly what happened today, so happy about that.”

Mountcastle on a good homestand: “It was great. A great homestand. Couple of series wins here and the bats starting to heat up. And the pitching has been doing great. Defense and everything, so feeling good going into this road trip.”

 

 

 

 

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