Homer-prone Tyler Wells yields 5 early runs and Orioles commit 4 errors in second straight loss to Dodgers, 10-3

19 July 2023

Tyler Wells’ home run problem wasn’t actually one until Tuesday night.

Wells emerged in the first half of the season as the Orioles’ best starting pitcher and the majors’ best starting pitcher at limiting base runners. He achieved those statuses despite allowing an exorbitant number of home runs — 21 in 17 starts.

But 15 of those 21 long balls were solo shots. The other six were two-run blasts. And they rarely came back to bite Wells, who ended the first half with a sparkling 3.18 ERA and MLB-best 0.927 WHIP.

His home run bill came due Tuesday.

Wells allowed only one big fly against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camden Yards, but it was of the variety he impressively — and somewhat luckily — avoided in the first half. Jason Heyward lined a three-run home run to straightaway center field to jump-start the Dodgers’ five-run second inning that led to a 10-3 Orioles loss.

The three runs Wells surrendered on Heyward’s homer were more than he gave up in any of his previous eight outings. He was pulled after the second inning for his first start of under five innings this season.

The five-spot Wells gave up in the second put Baltimore behind, and its offense wasn’t able to muster a comeback as it has so many times this season. Thirty-three of the Orioles’ 57 wins have been in come-from-behind fashion, but Baltimore’s bats advanced a runner to scoring position in just four of nine innings and the Orioles went 2-for-10 when they did.

The comeback attempt became almost impossible after the Dodgers put up another crooked number in the seventh — one of the Orioles’ ugliest innings of the season. Cole Irvin followed four shutout frames by walking the first two batters of the inning. Catcher Adley Rutschman then committed a throwing error to allow a run to score — the Orioles’ third of four errors. And reliever Cionel Pérez, who was reinstated off the injured list Tuesday, allowed three more to score as he walked three batters, including one that brought in a run.

The loss is Baltimore’s second straight to the National League West-best Dodgers (55-39), who have won eight of their past nine, after entering the series on a season-high eight-game winning streak. The Orioles (57-37) will look to avoid being swept for the first time since May 2022 in the series finale Wednesday afternoon.

What made Wells’ outing different Tuesday wasn’t the home run, but rather what preceded and followed it. The 6-foot-8 righty walked the leadoff batter — a rare occurrence for a pitcher who entered with a 5.9% walk rate — and then gave up a single. He then got behind Heyward 2-0, and the 33-year-old made him pay by hammering a low fastball 414 feet.

Wells then walked Miguel Rojas and gave up a single to James Outman and allowed both to score on RBI singles by Freddie Freeman and Will Smith. He retired the final two batters of the inning, but manager Brandon Hyde pulled him in favor of Irvin after the 40-pitch second.

The 28-year-old was starting Tuesday, the fifth game of the second half, after he pitched more innings in the first half (104 2/3) than in all of 2022 (103 2/3). Despite the poor start, his WHIP is still below 1.00, and his ERA sits at 3.54.

Irvin provided crucial length out of the bullpen in his first outing as Baltimore’s long reliever. The left-hander was moved to the bullpen after the Orioles called up top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez to start Monday’s game despite Irvin’s recent success with a 2.66 ERA in his previous five starts. He allowed four hits in his four innings of work, including an escape of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the sixth. Pérez allowed both of his runners to score in the seventh.

The Dodgers added an unearned run off Mike Baumann in the eighth when shortstop Gunnar Henderson’s throwing error allowed Freeman to score. In addition to Henderson and Rutschman, second baseman Adam Frazier and first baseman Ryan O’Hearn committed errors. The four errors came in four consecutive innings and are the most Baltimore has made in a game since June 2021 versus Cleveland. It is just the 12th time this century the Orioles have committed four errors in a game.

The Orioles’ lone run off Dodgers starter Michael Grove was doubled in by Aaron Hicks in the second. O’Hearn and Hicks both hit RBI singles in the eighth for Baltimore’s final offense of the night.

Around the horn

Before Monday’s game, the Orioles reinstated Pérez off the 15-day injured list and optioned lefty Nick Vespi to Triple-A Norfolk. It is the third time this season they have optioned Vespi, who has allowed three runs in nine innings with Baltimore. Pérez returns after missing 10 games with forearm tightness.
Cedric Mullins took batting practice on the field Tuesday. Mullins, who hasn’t played since leaving Saturday’s game with right quadriceps tightness, said he’s feeling better and hopes to return later this week. The center fielder hasn’t been placed on the IL, and he said leaving the game when he did could have saved him a “potentially season-ending” injury. “I think it was smart for me to come out and address it,” he said.
After the Orioles introduced Enrique Bradfield Jr. on Tuesday afternoon, the center fielder took batting practice on the field with outfielders Hicks and Colton Cowser. Baltimore on Monday signed Bradfield, selected No. 17 overall in the 2023 MLB draft, for his slot value of about $4.17 million.
The Orioles welcomed Luke Brockway, 17 of Catonsville, and his family to Camden Yards for a visit Tuesday through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Brockway, who can no longer play baseball because of the heart condition hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, was Baltimore’s “manager for the day.” Brockway sat with Brandon Hyde during the manager’s pregame news conference. “It’s your show,” Hyde joked with Brockway. ” You have to answer all the tough questions, all the injury stuff, lineup questions.” Brockway said he’s been an Orioles fan his whole life. “I grew up in an Oriole household,” he said. “I was just born into it.”

LSU basketball star and Randallstown native Angel Reese threw out the first pitch before Tuesday’s game. The St. Frances graduate and Maryland transfer had the refurbished Scotts Branch Police Athletic League Recreation Center basketball court dedicated in her honor Monday.

This story will be updated.


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