Orioles' attempts at winning series short-circuited in 6-5 loss (updated)

The Orioles aren’t running away from home. A charter flight to Toronto is coming later today, a much faster mode of transportation. But they’re going to dive back into division competition and miss the splash zone and charged atmosphere at Camden Yards.

They can do without the two Angels superstars who tried to ruin their chance at another series win, and the bullpen breakdowns later in the game, but the rest of it is cherished.

Shohei Ohtani, quiet since flirting with the cycle on Monday, homered off Tyler Wells in the first inning and Mike Trout lined a two-run shot over the left field wall in the third. The Orioles offered no response until tying the game in the fifth, capped by Anthony Santander’s two-run homer.

Had to get the place loud again.

It erupted in the seventh, after Adley Rutschman took a big cut at Chris Devenski’s fastball and watched it soar to the flag court with Austin Hays at first base to give the Orioles a lead. The groans were audible when an inherited runner scored against Austin Voth in the eighth, and Ohtani broke the tie by reaching on an infield hit with the bases loaded.

The water hose was rolled up after Cedric Mullins' pinch-hit two-out double in the ninth, and a winnable series was split, with the Orioles falling 6-5 before an announced crowd of 27,778.

The loss moved the Orioles 12 games above .500 again at 28-16. They went 6-4 on the homestand.

Hays had his third hit with his one-out single off Devenski in the seventh inning and Rutschman gave the Orioles their first lead. But Bryan Baker put two runners on base in the eighth, Gio Urshela singled off Voth to tie the game and Trout was hit to load the bases with two outs and force another pitching change.

First baseman Ryan Mountcastle made a diving stop of Ohtani’s sharp grounder, but Danny Coulombe didn’t get to the bag in time as the go-ahead run scored.

Coulombe struck out four batters in 1 1/3 innings.

"Danny falls off the mound over to the right," Mountcastle said. "It's so hard to beat him to the bag, he's so fast. I dove and looked up and it's one of those things. Tip your cap. He's insanely fast, so he's probably going to beat it out no matter what."

"I think Ohtani beats him," said manager Brandon Hyde. "Watching the replay, I thought that Ohtani, kind of a jail-break swing and he's 3-point something down the line. I think he's safe anyway."

Adam Frazier singled into right field off Carlos Estévez with one out in the bottom of the ninth and was thrown out by Hunter Renfroe trying for the double. Mullins doubled and Rutschman drew an intentional walk, but Mountcastle struck out looking.

"Frazier smokes one in the corner, and give Renfroe credit, that was a heck of a throw and a potentially game-saving play," Hyde said. "Sometimes, you've got to tip your hat to guys who make a great play. Renfroe did that. Ced with a big double off the bench. We battled. Adley, huge homer. We're a little on fumes in the 'pen and unfortunately just couldn't close it out there."

The Orioles were 24-2 when leading after the seventh.

"We've been great late in games and it just happens sometimes," Mountcastle said.

"I feel like our pitching's been doing really well. We've been having some key hits, and hopefully we can keep it going heading into Toronto."

"I think everyone understands that baseball's baseball and it's a difficult sport," Wells said. "It's a game of failure and it's not always going to go your way. As long as we continue to go out there each and every day and give our best effort, I think that we're going to continue to put together some close ballgames, and if they go our way, great. We're going to keep battling regardless."

Wells began the day leading the majors with an 0.723 WHIP, but he allowed four hits and walked a batter through the third. Ohtani pulled a changeup into the right field seats after Wells struck out the first two batters, and Trout drove a cutter to left at 110.4 mph off the bat.

Wells rested his right hand on his hip while tracking the flight of Ohtani’s ball. And then he retired four of the next five batters before a leadoff walk to Livan Soto in the third put a runner on base for Trout.

The three runs on the board were two more than Wells allowed in his last two starts combined.

With the side retired in order in the fourth and two runners stranded in the fifth, Wells was able to reach 95 pitches and keep the Angels at three runs. He allowed six hits, walked one and struck out seven.  

"I would definitely say control was kind of not there for my changeup," he said. "Obviously, with Ohtani's home run and Trout's home run, both were just poorly located pitches. Just go back to the drawing board during this next time around and hit the bullpen and make sure that I figure those things out."

The 19 swings-and-misses today topped the 18 he registered in his last start to set a career high. It was the most by an Orioles pitcher since Bruce Zimmermann had 19 on June 1, 2021 against the Twins.

Wells had thrown 58 pitches by the third, pressed into more action after Jorge Mateo lost Renfroe’s two-out foul popup in the sun. Renfroe lined a single into center field to extend the inning.

Back-to-back singles with no outs in the fifth, including a fly ball to right that fell in front of Santander, were followed by two popups and a liner to left. Wells had kept the Orioles within striking distance.

"He battled without his best stuff," Hyde said.

Mike Baumann replaced Wells and couldn’t offer a shutdown inning. A single, double play and walk preceded Zach Neto’s RBI single for a 4-3 lead.

The Orioles began today with a bullpen ERA of 2.89 that led the majors.

"I think that we've been playing good baseball," Wells said. "It's not like we got blown out today. It was a one-run game. Obviously, there's probably some frustration kind of revolving around today's game. I can't speak for everyone. But I know that whenever I'm going out there, after giving up a home run in the first inning and then a home run in the third inning, I'm just trying to make sure that I give my team as much length as possible and keep them in it. And I think the team did a great job of picking me up today. We continue to battle, and I think that's going to continue being the case for all of us wherever we go.

"Overall, not worried. I think we're going to keep battling."

The crowd was inflated by the annual kids field trip, when they arrive early, fill sections in the lower level and learn about the weather. They also got a lesson in how Ohtani and Trout can influence a game, and the damaging effects of missed opportunities.

The Orioles were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position after two innings. They loaded the bases with one out in the first, but James McCann struck out and Ryan McKenna flied out. Gunnar Henderson reached on an infield single with one out in the second and Joey Ortiz singled into right field, but the next two batters flied out.

Henderson has a hit in six consecutive games, and his average crept above .200 in the second inning.

Angels starter Tyler Anderson retired eight in a row after Ortiz’s single. The rookie infielder singled again to lead off the fifth, Hays doubled to right and Mountcastle lifted a sacrifice fly with one out to reduce the lead to 3-1.

Mountcastle’s ball was caught in shallow left field, but Ortiz, who posted the first multi-hit game of his young career, sprinted home and beat the throw.

The water works in left field were shut off until Hays’ double and Santander’s home run. That’s when the party started.

Santander is batting .339/.406/.645 this month, compared to .213/.280/.362 in March/April.

Baseball played on a Thursday afternoon, with no free merchandise or rival opponent, isn’t normally a big draw, but the joint was jumpin’.

“There’s definitely a different energy in the ballpark, and that just makes it more fun for players," Hyde said this morning. “When it’s much louder, when the fans are into it. They’re spraying water. We’re spitting water, they’re spraying water. It makes a great atmosphere, and I know our players feed off it.

“This Angels series last year was probably the most energetic I’ve ever seen this place, and we’re doing it without any giveaways right now. So, it’s a lot of fun. I know our players appreciate it, honestly. It’s tough to play in a place where it’s quiet. Big stadiums when it’s not many people, it’s pretty quiet, you can hear the fans around you, you can hear the other team’s dugout. So, when there’s a buzz in the air and there’s energy, it makes it a lot more fun to play.”

Asked for a comparison in the majors or minors that rivals the club’s ideas for fan interaction, Hyde mentioned the historic ballpark on the north side of Chicago. But that’s a built-in celebration.

“I think the bleachers in Wrigley, there’s nothing scripted, but that’s definitely an event, and they’re so on top of you there that you can hear and you see,” Hyde said. “It’s pretty cool, especially when they’re good and it’s packed every day. It was a party going on during the game. Our outfielders, there was a ton of interaction. But besides that, they’ve been doing a great job here of bringing energy to this ballpark.”

The club will need to supply its own at Rogers Centre and Yankee Stadium. And the bullpen will need a boost after today’s heavy usage, with Mychal Givens set to be reinstated from the injured list.

"He threw a side today, so he won't be available tomorrow," Hyde said. "We'll see about this weekend."

* Here are the starters for the series in Toronto:

Friday: RHP Kyle Gibson (4-3, 4.67 ERA) vs. LHP Yusei Kikuchi (5-0, 3.89 ERA)
Saturday: RHP Grayson Rodriguez (2-1, 6.57 ERA) vs. RHP Alek Manoah (1-4, 5.40 ERA)
Sunday: RHP Dean Kremer (5-1, 4.94 ERA) vs. Kevin Gausman (2-3, 3.27 ERA)

* Jordan Westburg hit his 12th home run today for Triple-A Norfolk. Kyle Stowers had two hits and an RBI. 

Spenser Watkins returned from the injured list and allowed one run and three hits with two walks in two innings. He struck out a batter.

Ryan Watson allowed two runs and two hits in five innings.

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