O’s game blog: Alexander Wells makes first major league start

After splitting the first two games of their series against Tampa Bay, the Orioles and Rays meet today in an afternoon game which will wrap up this series and a six-game road trip for Baltimore. The Orioles (31-63) beat Tampa Bay 6-1 on Monday night behind Spenser Watkins and lost 9-3 last night. Lefty John Means returned from the injured list and took the loss, allowing five runs and seven hits over five innings.

The Orioles are 18-33 on the road this season and 3-2 on this trip to Kansas City and St. Petersburg, Fla. A victory today and the Orioles would have a winning road trip, their first since going 4-2 at Oakland and Seattle in early May.

They are looking to win their third road series in their last four with a win today, after losing each of their previous seven. The Orioles have gone 7-7 on the road, since June 25, after snapping a 20-game road losing streak the day prior.

The Orioles have played just five rubber match games this year and are 4-1, including a 2-0 mark on the road. Those are third games of series where they have split the first two games. They won such games May 6 at Seattle, June 2 against Minnesota, June 6 versus Cleveland and Sunday at Kansas City. They lost a rubber match game on June 20 against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Tampa Bay (56-39) improved to 9-3 in their last 12 games with Tuesday’s win, the best record in the majors over that stretch. And in that span, the Rays are averaging 5.25 runs per game, totaling 61 runs in the nine wins. They are also 37-20 (.649) since May 13 and 43-24 (.642) since May 2, both of which are the best records in the American League over those stretches. Tampa Bay is 29-18 (.617) at Tropicana Field and 22-6 (.786) at home since May 13, best in the majors over that stretch.

Means made his first start since June 5 last night after being activated from injured list. He has pitched to a 7.15 ERA in two starts against the Rays this season, compared to a 1.95 ERA against all other opponents. He has allowed four runs and five runs, respectively, in his two starts against the Rays and has held all other opponents to three or fewer runs. He fell to 3-2 with a 4.38 ERA in seven career games against Tampa Bay.

McKenna-Runs-White-ST-sidebar.jpgThe Orioles today placed pitcher Keegan Akin and outfielder Anthony Santander on the COVID-19 injured list, which has no minimum stay. Outfielder Ryan McKenna and pitcher Alexander Wells were added to the roster and were already with the team in St. Petersburg. Click here for more on today’s news and moves.

Wells will be making his first major league start this afternoon. He has allowed five hits and two runs over 4 2/3 innings in two games in relief, on June 26 in Buffalo against Toronto and on June 29 at Houston.

Wells will become the 13th-Australian born player to make a major league start, and the third Oriole, joining righty John Stephens and left-hander Damian Moss. Moss’ 61 starts are the most in major league history by an Aussie, including his nine with the O’s in 2003. Wells became one of 19 Australian-born players to earn a major league win in that game at Houston.

Wells has tossed 11 straight scoreless innings for Triple-A Norfolk, going 1-0 in two starts and allowing just five hits with 10 strikeouts in this stretch.

Right-hander Michael Wacha (2-2, 5.14 ERA) will start for Tampa Bay. In 16 games for the season, he has allowed 65 hits in 61 1/3 innings with a WHIP of 1.353 to go with a 2.6 walk rate and 8.1 strikeout rate.

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