The latest Orioles comeback attempt came up just short as they fell 6-4 to the Rays on Wednesday night at Camden Yards.
What may be end up as the most impactful takeaway from this game is the early exit of Orioles starter Tyler Wells. Midway through the fifth inning, Wells appeared uncomfortable after releasing a pitch. He seemed to indicate it was a problem with his left side. The training staff was summoned to the mound, and Wells headed to the locker room right away.
The immediate report up to the press box was that Wells was experiencing “lower back discomfort,” but Brandon Hyde clarified afterward that it was both a back and side issue. It sounds like an IL stint is inevitable, and the timetable will become more clear tomorrow, That will further stretch an Orioles starting staff that was already wearing thin. You can be sure the clamoring for D.L. Hall will be getting that much louder.
Prior to the injury, Wells was having a rough outing. Through 4.1 innings the righty had allowed four runs on six hits, no walks, and five strikeouts. Three of the four runs came in on home runs. Hopefully this won’t represent the end of his first season as a big league starter. It has largely been such a success, but the former Rule 5 pick has started to run out of steam lately as he got close to the 100-inning mark on the year.
Of course, these Orioles aren’t quitters. So they did what they always do and fought back. Down 3-0 heading into the bottom of the second inning, the offense strung together three singles from Anthony Santander, Ryan Mountcastle, and Rougned Odor to get their first run of the day.
In the third inning, the Orioles trimmed the deficit to one run when Adley Rutschman, who had singled earlier, scored from third base on a wild pitch in the dirt from Rays starter Drew Rasmussen that got away from catcher Christian Bethancourt.
After the Rays added another run in the top of the fifth on a pair of doubles, the O’s once again kept things close in the bottom of the inning. Rutschman was hit by a pitch, and then he went first to third on a Trey Mancini single into right field. Rutschman then watched the throw in from the outfield as it got away from the cut off man, and he then scrambled home for a lovely manufactured run.
Heads up baserunning pic.twitter.com/QrMLYbdtSt— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) July 28, 2022
Things then went rather quiet for a few innings as the respective bullpens locked down the opposing lineups. But that came to an end in the bottom of the ninth inning, when the Orioles beat up on poor Colin Poche again. This time it was Jorge Mateo that took the southpaw deep, a laser beam just over the fence in right-center field to tie the score at four runs apiece.
MATEO IS THAT MAN pic.twitter.com/I9cXd3ZhU6— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) July 28, 2022
It seemed like the Orioles magic might have ended the game right there as the home team got two more runners on ahead of clean-up hitter Anthony Santander, but it was not to be. Santander struck out in an eight-pitch at-bat.
Jorge López came on the 10th inning and just was not as sharp as he needed to be, serving up two hits and a pair of walks (one intentional) to allow two runs. That put the O’s into a 6-4 hole from which they could not find a way out in their half of the inning.
It wasn’t all bad news. The bullpen, in general, was fantastic. Prior to López’s tough inning, Dillon Tate, Nick Vespi, Félix Bautista, and Keegan Akin combined for 4.2 scoreless innings while striking out eight.
Plus, this was yet another example of the Orioles fighting back late in a game. Bonus points for it occurring in a game in which their starting pitcher left early with an injury, something that has happened far too often for this team.
Frustratingly, Terrin Vavra did not make an appearance tonight. His big league debut will have to wait at least a few more hours.
But as mentioned at the top, Wells’ injury could be a big deal. He has been one of the most consistent players on the entire roster. Losing him would create a massive hole that may be filled by Hall, or the return of Kyle Bradish, or perhaps a spot start or two from Mike Baumann. There are options, but none of them are as concrete as Wells had been up until this point.
The Orioles can still nab the series, which wraps up on Thursday. It is a matinee performance with first pitch set for 12:35 p.m. from Camden Yards. The Rays have not announced a starter just yet, but the O’s will go with veteran Jordan Lyles, who will almost certainly be asked to throw six or seven innings regardless of performance. Somebody’s gotta eat those innings.