For the third time in their four-game series with Toronto, the Orioles made a day of change to their pitching plans. But all that mattered on Wednesday was that the Blue Jays keep theirs intact.
A streak that offered Baltimore the chance to boost its playoff hopes instead did the opposite, with Toronto ace Alek Manoah overcoming an early hiccup to top the Orioles in eight innings in a 4-1 victory, the his team’s third win of the series at Camden Yards. With 25 games left in its season, Baltimore is 4 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays for third place wildcard in the American League.
“The story tonight was Manoah and what he didn’t allow us to do,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We were closed offensively tonight. … We pitched well enough to win. We couldn’t do anything offensively. »
On Wednesday, the Orioles (72-65) welcomed right-hander Tyler Wells back into the lineup after his left oblique strain, activating him from the injured list after only one rehab start, and immediately propelled him into their spin. The club had worked out whether to bring Wells back as a starter or a reliever, with the former asking him for more time to stretch.
“We decided to train him as a starter, but do it as a starter here,” Hyde said before the game.
Dean Kremer was supposed to start on Wednesday, but late after Tuesday’s win — the only game in the series the Orioles actually made — the club changed its plans. With their bullpen loaded with a doubleheader on Monday and covering six high-leverage innings the following night, the Orioles determined they would be best served by activating Wells and letting him work past Kremer in the season finale. series, a temporary tandem to lighten the relievers. load.
The plot worked quite well, with the pair combining to allow three earned runs in 7 1/3 innings. Wells only needed four pitches in his first inning, but after the Orioles scored against Manoah thanks to Ryan Mountcastle’s two-out double, Baltimore gave the run back. After throwing 31 pitches on Friday for High-A Aberdeen, Wells needed 30 to get past Wednesday’s second inning, letting out a cry when a diving save and throw from third baseman Ramón Urías left the bases loaded. and the game tied.
“Overall the body felt good, the arm felt good,” Wells said. “Definitely a little rusty on some things, but for the most part I didn’t really have any issues and felt good.”
Kremer then made his first major league relief appearance. He was originally going to start the season on the back of Wells, only to suffer a left oblique strain himself during the warm-up to replace him in the third game of the year. He returned as a member of Baltimore’s rotation and pitched broadly well, entering Wednesday with a 3.22 ERA. Working 5 1/3 innings, he allowed three runs, two of which were earned and all in the fifth. They scored on weak contact – a pitch at 61.9 mph and a single at 59.2 mph – and a throwing error from catcher Adley Rutschman trying to pick out a runner at first base. He said the planned altered plans had no impact on his pre-match other than “not going into the match right after playing wrestling”.
Hyde was adamant that the partnership between Wells and Kremer was unique, saying the Orioles plan to have both in their rotation going forward and will capitalize on the upcoming rest days to make that happen.
“It’s a bit of a unique situation,” Hyde said before the game. “Once I knew Dean was okay with that, I felt good, because Dean pitched extremely well in the rotation. I will in no way exclude him from the rotation. It’s more about shortening the game a bit.”
In a corresponding move for Wells, the Orioles opted for right-handed starter Spenser Watkins, who had a 3.62 ERA since returning from his own stint in IL in June, at Triple-A Norfolk, opening up a spot in their rotation. this weekend against the Boston Red Sox.
It is possible that Jordan Lyles will fill it. The veteran right-hander was expected to kick off the opener of Monday’s doubleheader before waking up feeling unwell and being sent off in that final game. But he continued to feel the effects of what he said Wednesday was a stomach bug as he warmed up to pitch, causing a last-minute scramble for the Orioles’ pitching staff.
“I was just trying to get through it, trying to get a few innings,” said Lyles, returning to the clubhouse after being absent from the squad on Tuesday. “It just wasn’t myself, and it was visible, so we shut it down.”
Manoah did the same with the Orioles, largely cruising after his first-inning issues. Gunnar Henderson followed Mountcastle’s brace with a walk, then Manoah struck out 14 Orioles in a row. Rutschmann broke that streak with a double in the sixth but was blocked at third base as Manoah knocked down 22 of his last 23 batters. Baltimore was 1 for 17 with runners in scoring position in its three losses this streak, going 6 for 11 in Tuesday’s win.
The Orioles had won five straight series prior to this one and have two more against the Blue Jays in the final month of the season. In that sense, they are still in control of their own destiny, even if a tough four-game streak has made it harder to grasp.
“I don’t think anything has changed,” Kremer said. “We are not in a hurry. There is still a good end to the season. We’ve just started September and we’re playing them twice more, so there’s definitely a chance to close that gap.
around the horn
- On Sept. 24, the Orioles will host “Thanks Brooks Day,” recognizing the 45th anniversary of franchise icon Brooks Robinson’s retirement. The first 15,000 fans will receive a poster of Norman Rockwell’s “Gee, Thanks Brooks” board, and Robinson, 85, will be led around the pre-game cautionary rink, an ode to the 1977 ceremony.
- Double-A Bowie second baseman Connor Norby was named Eastern League Player of the Month for August. Norby, the Orioles’ 2021 second-round pick, hit .339/.405/.661 (1.066 OPS) with nine home runs last month.
Friday, 7:05 p.m.
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