An overturned call at first base tonight awarded Detroit’s Riley Greene with an infield single in the first inning, before Orioles starter Tyler Wells disposed of the next two batters to strand him. Wells retired 12 of 14 and ultimately 19 of 23, striking out Greene to end the third after allowing a one-out single, and kept adding links to the scoreless chain.
The Orioles were far from a lock to break the club record of 54 innings in a row set in 1974. The chain was bound to snap on any pitch. That's a lot of length. But it sure was impressive while it lasted.
A leadoff walk in the fifth produced nothing. Wells got a popup and 4-6-3 double play. A leadoff infield single in the sixth also was a hollow threat after Cedric Mullins ran down a fly ball in right-center and Adam Frazier caught a line drive and doubled off the runner at first base.
Just another zero. Perhaps a more fitting symbol on the alternate cap.
Wells worked a career-high seven innings and held the Tigers to three hits and a walk, striking out five batters and pounding his glove after getting a ground ball to retire the side in order in his last frame. The streak had grown to 33 and would get to 34.
And then it was over.
Javier Báez lined a two-out single into left field off Félix Bautista in the ninth on a 2-2 count to score pinch-hitter Akil Baddoo with the tying run, but Ryan Mountcastle and Anthony Santander singled off Jason Foley with one out in the bottom of the ninth and Frazier bounced to first baseman Spencer Torkelson, whose throw home was late to give the Orioles a 2-1 win before an announced crowd of 18,772 at Camden Yards.
Catcher Eric Haase tried to make a sweeping tag, but Mountcastle avoided it, and the Orioles won their fourth game in a row and eighth in 10 to improve to 12-7. They went 1-5 against the Tigers last season.
"I was just reading the ball down, make sure he hit it on the ground," Mountcastle said. "Right off the bat I just took off and beat it. Got a pretty good lead, a pretty good jump."
Mountcastle isn't known for his sprinter's speed but joked later about challenging Mullins and Jorge Mateo - and winning.
"I don't think they want to race me right now," he said. "I'm feeling good, my legs are feeling loose. Been saving them the last couple days. I feel fast, yeah. That was nice."
Two of Mountcastle's at-bats tonight ended on line drives caught in right field. They play on a loop this season. Hard-hit balls that produce frustrating outs.
"I thought I was going to have to do some type of sacrifice or something after the game," he said, "and then I got lucky enough to sneak another at-bat in there and got a hit."
"Mounty has been grinding for a while and not getting results," said manager Brandon Hyde. "Hits two balls on the nose right at the right fielder earlier in the game. He's hit the ball hard, he's just not getting the results this year, and for him to stay on a ball, two strikes, off a tough reliever like that to get the inning started, and then in motion, Santander with a huge hit, to go first to third. Two nice singles and a really good contact at third base from Mounty with (Frazier) putting the ball in play with two strikes, making something happen."
Austin Hays homered off reliever José Cisnero with two outs in the seventh inning for the game’s first run, a 413-foot shot into the Orioles bullpen. Bryan Baker struck out two in an easy eighth, but Baddoo led off the ninth with a single and stole second base, Nick Maton struck out, Greene grounded sharply to short, and Báez pulled a splitter into left.
The 34 innings in a row are the sixth-highest total in club history and the most since the 1995 Orioles didn’t allow a run in 45 straight. On deck was the 1982 club’s 36 consecutive innings, followed by the 37 in 1992, but Báez put a stop to the counting.
"Outstanding," Hyde said. "The last three starts have been amazing. It's fun to watch Tyler Wells go seven, first time ever. ... A ton of strikes, mixed pitches extremely well. Up, down, side to side, kept guys off balance. He was really, really good."
Wells was the latest member of the rotation to excel after Dean Kremer and Kyle Bradish combined for 12 2/3 in D.C.
"He was insane, he looked great," Mountcastle said. "That's the best I've seen him look."
"Felt like I was in control most of the night," Wells said. "Very happy."
Hyde let Wells throw 95 pitches, tying his career high. Sixty-one were strikes.
"It feels great," Wells said. "I like to take the same approach as I did last year, just trying to go as deep as they'll let me."
"It's definitely nice this year being able to let him go pitch," Hyde said. "That was something we needed to do last year and had to do and should do, but this year, obviously, the leash is longer and it's fun to watch him go out there and go as long as he can."
The 34-inning streak is the longest by an American League team since the 1995 Orioles.
"I think it motivates me a lot," Wells said. "Dean and Bradish did a great job the last two starts and Gibby (Kyle Gibson) has done a great job all year. Being able to kind of go out there and ride the slope with the rest of the guys is a pretty good feeling.
"We sit there and we constantly push each other, whether that's in bullpens, whether that's in catch play. I was out the other day watching Grayson (Rodriguez) throw his bullpen, and Gibby's sitting there talking to him. Just like, 'Hey, what are we trying to execute?' We're always trying to feed off each other, learn, and apply that into the games, and so far that's worked out for all of us."
Outfielder Ryan McKenna wore an orange T-shirt during batting practice yesterday that had “Slug it and Chug it” printed across the chest in black letters – the phrase that Melanie Newman used on the radio broadcast on the night that the homer hose made its first appearance.
Hays drank from it tonight, his fourth home run of the season a certainty as soon as he made contact. He chucked his bat and broke into his trot. The crowd erupted, and Wells was positioned to earn his first victory before it disappeared.
Tigers right-hander Michael Lorenzen had his own stubborn streak tonight, blanking the Orioles on three hits over five innings and 68 pitches. He induced double plays from Mountcastle after Mullins’ leadoff single in the first and Terrin Vavra in the third after Ramón Urías’ one-out single. Mullins led off the fourth with a walk, advanced on a balk call that Lorenzen disputed, and was unable to get any further.
Right fielder Kerry Carpenter made a sliding catch to rob Mountcastle, and Santander lined to left.
Gunnar Henderson doubled off the center field fence with two outs in the fifth, 109.2 mph off the bat, but Urías struck out. Mullins doubled with one out in the sixth, but reliever Chasen Shreve escaped the jam.
The ball left Hays' bat at 105 mph in the seventh and the Orioles came within a strike of adding another link.
Chains were made to be broken.
"They're pitching their butts off," Mountcastle said. "That's a lot more enjoyable to play behind them when guys have done really well like that. Hopefully, keep it going and get some more wins.
"We like to make it interesting sometimes, but I don't know. Just resiliency, I guess. We've got a good group of guys here and hopefully we can keep it going."
The momentum could have vanished like the lead and the scoreless streak, but the Orioles improved to 7-0 in series openers and produced their 12th walk-off win since the beginning of 2022.
"I think that speaks to our resilience," Wells said. "We had it all last year, we've had it this year, so I think that just speaks to just how resilient these guys are. ... You sit there and you look at these guys and they go out each and every day and they give their heart and they give everything they've got, and I think that just shows how much they want to be out there and it shows the culture that we have right now. We all want to win."
Down on the farm, Left-hander DL Hall went five innings tonight for Triple-A Norfolk and allowed two runs and five hits with two walks, five strikeouts, a home run and a hit batter. He threw 85 pitches, 54 strikes.
Rochester’s Matt Adams hit a two-run homer.
Joey Ortiz had a game-tying RBI triple in the seventh and Daz Cameron hit a go-ahead home run in the eighth in a 3-2 win.