Orioles offense loses steam in 4-1 loss, Wells retires 14 in a row, McKenna and Maton clear waivers (updated)

The Orioles won’t go 162-0. Seemed like a long shot anyway.

Tyler Wells was charged with three earned runs and four total today in the first two innings before plowing through the Angels order, and a red-hot offense cooled in a 4-1 loss to the Angels before an announced crowd of 20,576 at Camden Yards.

A season-opening sweep was denied.

Wells got into a groove and retired the last 14 batters he faced after Zach Neto’s run-scoring single in the second. He struck out the side in the sixth, giving him seven on the day, with five hits and no walks.

A pitch count of 82 over six innings included 60 strikes. His strikeouts in the sixth came on his changeup, cutter and fastball.

"Just had way more mix," said manager Brandon Hyde. "They were aggressive on him early in the game, kind of on time with his fastball. They were aggressive on him early in the count. And he made a couple adjustments where they started mixing pitches a little bit more.

"Just too little too late."

Wells provided the third quality start from the rotation before the Royals come to town.

Corbin Burnes, Grayson Rodriguez and Wells have combined to strike out 27 batters and walk only one. Dean Kremer is next.

This is first time that the Orioles began a season with their first three starters recording at least seven strikeouts.

"I think that you look at those first two starts and you're like, 'Oh man, that's pretty good,'" said Wells, who induced 16 whiffs, the fourth-highest total in his career. "And then today is a little bit of a rougher start, but at the same time it's the ability to go out there and continue to give innings. We have a quality rotation and I think it's going to continue to show itself and I think it's going to be a strong suit of the team this year."

Neto had the last Angels hit until Brandon Drury’s two-out single off Yennier Cano in the ninth. Dillon Tate hit Logan O’Hoppe in the seventh and Jacob Webb walked Neto in the eighth before a pitch-out led to a caught stealing.

"I figured out pretty much a mechanical thing within the third inning that really helped me kind of stick to being able to put all my pitches in the zone and kind of stay on the corners," Wells said. "Obviously for the first couple innings we had a plan, we executed the plan and the plan wasn't working, so we had to shift. After that, (James) McCann called a great game and everything just kind of fell into place."

"We pivoted from our original game plan," McCann said. "Tip your cap to them, they came out and did some damage early and then we pivoted and did a really good job of pitching from there on out."

The Orioles trailed for only the second time in the series after Taylor Ward hit a two-run homer in the top of the first. Ward also homered off Grayson Rodriguez last night.

Luis Rengifo led off the second with an infield hit on a tapper near the plate, one of the few balls that wasn’t barreled. O’Hoppe singled into left field at 101.2 mph, Jo Adell lined to left field at 111.9 and Neto clocked in at 103.7 on his RBI single into left-center.

McCann tried to pick off O’Hoppe at third base with two outs, and his throwing error gave the Angels a 4-0 lead.

"He was down the line quite a bit and we've got a contact guy at the plate," McCann said. "Typically, two outs isn't a great time to try the back pick at third but we're trying to limit damage and figure it's a free out we can take, and I threw it into his back instead of inside the line.

"If I had to do it again, I wouldn't not call it. I'd just throw it on the inside part of the bag cause he's out by five feet."

The Orioles got a run back against Reid Detmers in the bottom of the second without the ball leaving the infield. Jordan Westburg walked with one out, Cedric Mullins was hit by a 93.1 mph fastball, Jorge Mateo beat out a grounder to the right side with two outs and Gunnar Henderson drew a full-count walk.

Henderson also made a sensational play at shortstop in the third, diving to his right to corral Drury’s grounder and firing to first base from the outfield grass. And he turned a double play to end the seventh after taking the feed from Mateo, again showing off his rocket arm.

"We saw it last year, how athletic he is, and the arm strength," Hyde said. "We were comfortable with him at short and third last year, and he's going to play more shortstop this year. That's where he loves to play and he's really good at it."

Detmers held the Orioles to one run and two hits in five innings. He struck out seven, including Anthony Santander twice.

"He commanded his fastball pretty good at the top of the zone," McCann said. "We never really got on top of it. And he was used his slider and changeup off of that and did a really good job of keeping us off balance as a lineup."

The Orioles threatened against José Soriano in the seventh when McCann poked a single into right field with one out and pinch-hitter Tony Kemp was awarded a walk on a pitch clock violation. But Henderson bounced into a force and Adley Rutschman lined to left.

Soriano, who was hitting triple digits on the radar gun, was charged with an error in the eighth after Nolan Schanuel’s throw deflected off his glove, but Santander lined into a double play. Austin Hays walked and pinch-hitter Colton Cowser bounced out.

The Orioles couldn’t join the 1978 Brewers as the only teams since 1901 to score 11 or more runs in each of the first three games. Milwaukee pounded the Orioles 11-3, 16-3 and 13-5 at County Stadium.

Eddie Murray was moved to third base, an experiment that lasted three games.

"Baseball's a funny game and some days the guys have it and sometimes they don't," Wells said, staying in the present. "Today was just one of those days. Detmers went out and pitched well. It is what it is. I'm not too worried about the offense at all."

"That's baseball, right?" McCann said. "Just because you have two really good games offensively doesn't mean you're going to have three.

"That's the beauty of 162 games is you're going to have your ups, you're going to have your downs as an individual and as a team. Today, we just didn't click."

* Outfielder Ryan McKenna and infielder Nick Maton cleared waivers and were assigned to Triple-A Norfolk. However, the Athletics claimed infielder/outfielder Tyler Nevin.

Nevin appeared to make the club out of spring training, but the Orioles signed Tony Kemp on Tuesday.

Maton was designated for assignment to make room for Kemp on the 40-man roster. McKenna and Nevin were designated on Opening Day.

The 40-man roster holds 38 players.

* Left-hander John Means made his first rehab start at Norfolk and allowed six runs and five hits in a 27-pitch first inning. Junior Caminero and Ruben Cardenas homered.

Means surrendered a leadoff single in the second and Nolan Hoffman replaced him after 32 pitches, 21 strikes. Means, who walked a batter and struck out two, was charged with a seventh run after leaving the game. His fastball sat at 90-91 mph but reached 92.5.

Coby Mayo hit a 421-foot home run at 111.3 mph with Norfolk trailing 17-1.

* Hyde didn't have a timeline on Cionel Pérez’s return from a strained right oblique.

"Hope that he gets back as soon as he can," Hyde said.

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