Wells' season innings load, hot hitters lead win over Tampa Bay and farm notes

When I interviewed right-hander Tyler Wells (6-2, 3.20 ERA) a few days ago for this article, we also talked about a topic not included in the previous article. That is his innings load for this year.

At some point in the second half it will have to become a topic of discussion for the O’s front office and manager Brandon Hyde. How far can they push Wells with his innings total for this year? And keep in mind they hope he is still pitching in October too.

The most innings as a pro that Wells has pitched were 119 1/3 in the minors in 2018. At the big league level, his career most is the 103 2/3 innings he pitched for the Orioles last year. He is at 81 2/3 innings right now (17th most in the American League). At his current pace he would pitch around 186 innings this season.

For now, Wells has tabled any discussion or concerns about his innings load for this season.

“For me, I’m not even focused on it,” he told me in Chicago. “If they want me to take the ball, I’m going to take the ball. You know that is the kind of person I am. I did that last year, taking the ball as long as I am healthy. I don’t think I’m really focused on that. I trust that our medical staff is doing their part in it and I know that Hyder is always doing his part with that. I know that the front office is too. Whenever it becomes a talking point with them, and they want to address it with me I am always listening. But for me right now I’m not worried about it.”

Wells can pitch the Orioles to a two-game series sweep today. Over his last four starts, he is 3-1 with a 2.55 ERA.  

O’s beat Tampa Bay: Entering the opener of this brief two-game series Tuesday night at Tropicana Field, the Tampa Bay Rays were not only playing ball at a 110-win pace for the year. But they were 31-7 this season at home and 11-0 in home series openers.

All those numbers took a bit of a hit as the Orioles moved out to a 6-0 lead in the second inning, 7-0 by the fifth and then held on for an 8-6 win against the Rays. The Orioles improved to 2-2 on this road trip and to 45-27 for the season. They pulled within four games of the first-place Rays and are just two games back in the loss column.

The Orioles now have the best record in AL East games among AL East teams, passing the Rays win percentage with this victory. The O’s are now 14-8 (.636) in the AL East while Tampa Bay is 16-10 (.615).

And since losing their first two series of the year within the division, the Orioles have won five in a row for the first time since 2014. They can make it six with a win today and they are now 12-4 in their past 16 AL East games.

Outfielder Aaron Hicks continues to impress with a four-RBI game that included a first-inning three-run homer last night off Tyler Glasnow and an RBI single in the eighth for a big late insurance run. Hicks is now batting .340 with an OPS of 1.048 in 17 games with the team. He entered last night 4-for-37 with no homers in his last 12 games at Tropicana Field.

Another newcomer in Ryan O’Hearn hit a solo homer last night. He is 14-for-28 during an eight-game hitting streak. Over his past 14 games, O’Hearn is batting .417 (20-for-48) with five doubles, four homers, nine RBIs and with an OPS of 1.222.

Austin Hays may be swinging the hottest bat of them all right, going 3-for-4 with two doubles and two runs to produce his fifth consecutive multi-hit game. He is 12-for-21 during this stretch. Hays has a seven-game hitting streak overall and is 15-for-29 (.517) in that stretch. For the year he leads the American League in batting average, now hitting .327.

Over his last 25 games since May 21, Hays is batting .367 with 11 doubles, a triple, three homers, 16 RBIs and with an OPS of .994.

And on the farm: Triple-A Norfolk was rained out at Nashville, meaning Cedric Mullins and Ryan Mountcastle did not play in their first rehab games with the Tides. The clubs have a single game set for tonight and a makeup doubleheader scheduled on Thursday.

Norfolk (45-23) has a magic number of two to clinch the first half championship in the International League and make the playoffs for the first time since 2015.

Right-hander Jean Pinto made his Double-A pitching debut in Bowie’s 4-1 win at Altoona last night. He allowed one run and seven hits over 4 1/3 innings. In his own Double-A debut, center fielder Jud Fabian, batting third, went 1-for-5 with a single and added an outfield assist.

Coby Mayo and Billy Cook hit two-run homers for Bowie, which is 10-4 its last 14 games. Mayo began the day with 34 extra-base hits, tied for the most in the minors.

Jackson Holliday drove in three runs as High-A Aberdeen rallied but lost 7-6 at Wilmington to fall to 31-32.

Low Single-A Delmarva ended a four-game losing streak, beating Augusta 3-2 as Elio Prado hit a two-run homer and Trendon Craig a solo shot. Craig now has a 15-game on-base streak, the longest by a Shorebird this year.


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