O's game blog: Looking to end a four-game slide in the road trip finale

A team’s fortunes can change fast in baseball, and the Orioles are realizing that this week. When they hit five homers and beat Seattle 9-2 Monday night, they improved to 4-1 on this road trip and moved to within five games of the .500 mark. The next night they were locked in a 0-0 game in the eighth inning at Seattle. They would lose that game 2-0 and then fall in the series finale the next day at Seattle.

Then it was on to Minnesota to face the first-place Twins. In each of the first two games there, the Orioles have taken a one-run lead to the last of the ninth. And while they were 29-0 when leading after eight innings when this series began, now they have lost back-to-back in the last of the ninth in a pair of walk-off defeats at Minnesota.

Now the Orioles (35-44) are reeling with four straight losses and five in the last six games. They need to win today to avoid being swept in this series and to complete a .500, 5-5 road trip. One that started with such promise at 4-1 halfway through it.

But closer Jorge López has suffered back-to-back blown saves and the Orioles have lost two games in a row by one run for just the second time this season.

The O’s offense has had its own issues during the losing streak, scoring just eight runs on 20 hits the last four games and going 2-for-26 batting with runners in scoring position.

Orioles pitching has allowed just seven runs in the two games of this series, and also took a loss in Seattle in which they allowed just two runs. So the pitchers continue to do a pretty solid job. In fact, the Orioles staff has allowed only 27 runs the last 10 games, 31 in 12 and 40 runs over the past 15 games, for just 2.67 per game.

O’s starting pitchers in this series, Spenser Watkins and Jordan Lyles, have both recorded quality starts against the Twins, allowing a combined two runs and seven hits in 12 1/3 innings.

O’s starting pitchers have an ERA of 1.60 over the last 12 games (11 ER/62 IP).

Even with four losses in a row, the O’s still have a winning record, going 8-7 over the past 15 games and 11-9 in their last 20. Since May 19, the Orioles are 21-20. They are 28-30 since May 1.

As they try to reverse this slide today, right-hander Tyler Wells (6-4, 3.23 ERA) will make his 16th start for Baltimore. He has been a pitcher on a roll recently, going 4-0 with a 2.05 ERA over his past four starts. The Orioles have won his past six starts and his ERA is 1.97 in that span. He has allowed seven earned runs in 32 innings in those games, giving up a .161 batting average and .548 OPS. In his past two starts, versus Washington and Seattle, Wells has allowed one run over 10 innings.

Today he faces the club that drafted him in round 15 in 2016. The Orioles selected Wells from the Minnesota organization in the December 2020 Rule 5 draft.

Wells has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 11 of 15 games this year and has given up three earned runs or fewer in 14 straight starts. He has thrown 69 2/3 innings for the season, which is well above the 57 innings he threw pitching in relief in 2021.

Lefty Devin Smeltzer (4-1, 2.86 ERA) gets the start as the Twins look for a sweep. For the year, he has thrown 50 1/3 innings, allowing 40 hits and 11 walks. He's recorded 31 strikeouts and 1.013 WHIP, a 2.0 walk rate and a 5.5 strikeout rate.

In his past two starts – both versus Cleveland – he has allowed one run and seven hits in 12 innings, with no walks and 12 strikeouts. He has given up two earned runs or fewer in seven of his nine 2022 starts. In four home games, he is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA and 0.750 WHIP.

Since June 1, the Orioles' Ryan Mountcastle is slashing .306/.356/.620 (33-for-108) with 13 doubles, seven home runs, 17 runs scored, 19 RBIs, nine walks, and a .976 OPS in 28 games. During that span, he ranks among AL leaders in a variety of offensive categories including first in extra-base hits, fourth in slugging and sixth in OPS. He has hit safely in 22 of his last 28 games, including nine multi-hit efforts, and recorded an extra-base hit in 15 games, including four games with multiple extra-base hits.

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