The bullpen began running between innings, milling relievers to spread or throw weighted balls against a padded wall. But no one stood to warm up on the mound, even though right-hander Tyler Wells had thrown 75 pitches through five innings, four shy of his career.
The Orioles (21-29) have been particularly cautious with Wales this season. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019 and missed the 2020 season as the coronavirus prompted the cancellation of the minor league season.
But on Monday night at Fenway Park, the reins that have held Wells back for much of the campaign were loosened – not completely, but enough to allow him the best start to his career that could have been possible. A glimpse of Hai comes in 2023. When the reins are completely freed.
Wells’ performance was the launching pad for Baltimore, but the bat did the rest in a 10–0 victory that sealed a five-match series win. The close-starter completed six innings for the second time this season. He turned in his longest scoreless stretch, throwing a career-high 88 pitches and allowing only one base runner to reach scoring position.
Of the 21 batsmen Wells faced, 18 retired, with one in the second, a double in the fourth and one in the fifth with only lapses in the night.
It is Wells that executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias envisions becoming a fixture in the rotation. And that’s why Baltimore has been so careful not to stretch him too long. Wells has hovered around 70 or 75 pitches for most of this season, with an opening hook from manager Brandon Hyde always on his mind.
That opening hook could have happened on Monday too, if it weren’t so impressive. Wells’ 11 blows was his second-most this season, with six coming on his slider. Even as Wells returned to the mound for the sixth inning, already on 75 pitches, the Orioles’ bullpen did not extend past the stretch. It was his innings alone, and he rewarded his manager with another 1-2-3 frame.
Ryan Mountcastle’s bat was the only reason the ball stopped inside the premises of Fenway Park because it hit an advertising board that now sticks over the top of the Green Monster. Also, Mountcastle’s homer would have cleared the fence at every other major league ballpark.
He stepped out of the box and started his trot, a single shot that left his disappointing week in the past. The first baseman hit .179 with 11 strikes in seven matches last week. But Mountcastle, along with the rest of the Orioles lineup, closed out the five-game set with Boston on highest notes.
Mountcastle recorded four hits. Trey Mancini added three. Jorge Matteo and Adly Rutschmann both scored two points each. Anthony Santander and Ramon Ureas each sent their long deliveries into the night. It was part of a breakout 14-hit display to rebound from a blowout loss on Sunday.
For Mountcastle in particular, this is a promising sign. His home run rate on Monday stood at 3.21%, down from 5.63% in 2021. His pull rate was also below normal, although a hanging curveball from left-hander Rich Hill allowed Mountcastle to crush the ball to the left.
There was a tight contact against Hill all night. Through two shifts, the 42-year-old’s softest exit velocity was a 99-mph flight. Mountcastle recorded Hill’s slowest run in third, but the 61.9 mph dribbler still went for an infield single.
There were innumerable strong performances between Mountcastle and Wales and others. They were involved in a promising series finale, a boost after a busy four-day, five-game spell at Fenway Park.
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