The Orioles started their series with the Royals this weekend on a good note with some timely hitting, solid starting pitching, and bullpen dominance. We’d all like a 10-0 win, but tonight’s formula was pretty good too.
After so many underwhelming starts by Orioles’ starters recently, Tyler Wells was a breath of fresh air tonight. It soured a bit at the end but he mostly looked great throughout, starting with an 11-pitch first inning that was over before many of us could get our televisions turned on.
The offense rewarded him with one run in each of the first two innings. Austin Hays ambushed Daniel Lynch on the first pitch he threw in the game, a middle-of-the-plate 92 mph fastball, for a home run to left field. The 357 shot got over the short part of the left field wall inside the foul pole.
Gunnar Henderson hit the first of his three hits in the second inning, a single. The lefty Lynch almost picked Henderson off as he took off for second base, but Gunnar’s jump was too good and he beat the throw down to second from the first baseman. That put him in a prime position to score on Jorge Mateo’s single. That put the Orioles up 2-0, which was good because Wells was about to give one back.
Mateo put on a show once he got on base, stealing second and then third in short order, but sadly he was stranded. There was a delay when Austin Hays was sent to first base on what the plate umpire seemed to think was ball four. There was some ensuing confusion and a long wait while the umpires initiated their own review to confirm that the count was, in fact, 3-0. Hays popped out immediately to end the inning.
With one out in the top of the third, Nicky Lopez hit a ball to right-center field. It was a hit all the way, but Ryan McKenna went airborne and it sailed right past him. Lopez motored all the way to third where he scored on a sacrifice fly to cut the lead in half.
The Orioles frustratingly had scored once more in the game as they couldn’t ever get much going against Lynch. Aaron Hicks singled in the third and Henderson singled and stole another base in the fourth, but nothing doing. In the fifth, though, they scraped another one across.
Hays led off with a double that bounced up against the fence in center field, then came in to score on a double from Anthony Santander. Santander was stranded on the bases but his RBI ended up being a big one.
In the meantime, Wells was cruising. After Lopez tripled in the third, he retired 13 of the next 14 batters. A fourth-inning single from Bobby Witt, Jr. was the only blemish. That took him right up into the seventh inning with two outs. He is pitch count was low and he was entirely in control...until he wasn’t.
With two outs in the seventh, Wells surrendered back-to-back singles. The first was hit pretty hard on the ground to right field, and the second was very weak contact that fell into center field. Still, Wells just had to retire Drew Waters, he of the .267 OBP. No problem! Of course, Wells walked him. That was the end of his night, unfortunately. Still, a great night for Wells.
Mike Baumann replaced Wells and the good news is that he struck out Lopez to end the inning. The bad news is the strikeout came after he threw a wild pitch that allowed a run to score. Wells’s final pitching line: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 K.
The Orioles’ bats remained quiet, but luckily the duo of Yennier Cano and Félix Bautista were up to the task of closing things out.
Cano gave up a leadoff single but then engaged in an epic battle with Salvador Perez. Cano kept throwing sinkers and Perez kept fouling them off. Finally, on the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Cano prevailed. Perez hit a grounder to shortstop for the double play.
It’s a good thing, too, because Matt Duffy immediately singled to follow Perez. But a groundout from Witt and the drama was nixed.
There was no drama from Bautista. Back-to-back strikeouts and a fly ball to center and the Orioles were in the win column. Bautista threw just 10 pitches and looked completely dominating.
O’s win, 3-2! More offense would have been nice but a win’s a win and a starting pitcher going into the seventh is always worth celebrating. The teams are back in action tomorrow at 4:05 with Cole Irvin back in the rotation for the Orioles.
Who is the Most Birdland Player for Friday, June 9th?
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Tyler Wells (6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 K)
Austin Hays (HR, 2B)
Gunnar Henderson (3 hits, 2 SB)