Wells overcomes faulty beginning, but Orioles can’t overtake Angels in first loss

The Orioles weren’t going to finish 162-0.

In all the seasons of Major League Baseball, the crazy and the unexpected are frequent enough occurrences to give credence to the idea that anything can happen at the diamond. But even the best teams lose, and although the Orioles might be a World Series contender this season, a loss was inevitable.

That loss arrived Sunday. The Los Angeles Angels — who had looked so hapless in their first two games that manager Ron Washington felt a team meeting was necessary Saturday night — beat the Orioles 4-1 at Camden Yards to avoid the sweep.

The Angels jumped ahead early on right-hander Tyler Wells, then held on to a narrow lead the rest of the way. They kept an offense that had outscored them 24-7 in the first two games quiet in the finale.

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“That’s baseball,” Orioles catcher James McCann said. “Just ’cause you have two really good games offensively doesn’t mean that you’re going to have three. … That’s the beauty of 162 games, is you’re going to have your ups, you’re going to have your downs, as an individual and as a team.”

The past year for Wells has been full of twists. He was Baltimore’s best starter during the first half of last season but soon found himself in the minors, having hit a wall that prevented the continuation of his standout efforts. Wells moved into the bullpen, excelled in that role late in the season and then refocused this winter on returning to the rotation.

Wells became a lock for the rotation this season partly due to injuries elsewhere, although his own performances have warranted that inclusion.

Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Tyler Wells waits for the ball as Los Angeles Angels first baseman Nolan Schanuel (18) rounds the bases in the first inning off of Taylor Ward’s home run. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

Still, he opened the year in a lackluster way, with Taylor Ward turning on a fastball left knee-high in the zone for a two-run homer in the first inning. The Angels added two runs in the second inning with Zach Neto’s RBI single and a throwing error from McCann.

But Wells locked in from there. The right-hander retired the final 14 batters he faced, with six of his seven strikeouts in that stretch. To punctuate his renewed command, Wells struck out the side in the sixth inning, freezing Mike Trout on a changeup that just caught the bottom of the zone.

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“We pivoted from our original game plan,” McCann said. “Tip your cap to them. They came out, and they got off to a heater. They did some damage early and we pivoted, and he did a really good job of pitching from then on.”

Wells mixed his pitches more effectively as the game advanced, and he credited McCann for calling a strong game. But Wells said he also “figured out a mechanical thing” that helped him “put all of my pitches in the zone and stay on the corners.”

His changeup stood out, but it was far from alone. “My cutter was working really well today. My curveball in the zone was great. Changeups were great. I think being able to continue to mix all of those in really helped me out.”

It wasn’t Wells at his best, yet his outing perpetuated a standout beginning of the season for Baltimore’s starters. On opening day, Corbin Burnes struck out 11 batters in six innings of one-run ball. Grayson Rodriguez followed with nine strikeouts and one run against him in six innings.

And, with Wells’ seven strikeouts, it marked the first time in Orioles history that the franchise opened a season with three straight outings in which its starters punched out seven or more, according to MLB.com.

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Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Tyler Wells roars after recording his final strikeout of the day. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

The three earned runs against Wells left the door open for Baltimore to slug its way back into the outing, too, and after posting 24 combined runs in the first two games, it seemed a matter of time before the Orioles broke through.

It never came.

For a moment, Angels starter Reid Detmer lost control in the second inning. He hit a batter and walked two, including Gunnar Henderson with the bases loaded, to bring home one run. The Orioles’ search for a big hit came up empty, though. Baltimore was held without an extra-base knock against an Angels pitching staff the lineup beat up on in the first two games.

That saddled Wells with a loss in his season debut. The adjustments he made, however, offer a strong reassurance for what Wells can do as a member of this rotation.

“It was a mental adjustment; it was a physical adjustment; it was just making sure I stayed within myself,” Wells said.

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Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Cionel Perez (58) is pulled from the game by head trainer Brian Ebel (middle) against the Los Angeles Angels at Camden Yards on March 30, 2024. The Baltimore Orioles beat the Angels, 13-4, to clinch a series win. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)


  • The Orioles announced infielder/outfielder Tyler Nevin, a late-spring training cut, was claimed off waivers by the Oakland Athletics. Additionally, outfielder Ryan McKenna and infielder Nick Maton cleared waivers and were assigned to Triple-A Norfolk.
  • Left-hander John Means made the first start of his rehab assignment with Norfolk and struggled. Means, who is behind schedule after resting his elbow further this winter, was rocked. He gave up seven runs in one-plus innings on six hits and one walk. He also struck out two batters.
  • Left-hander Cionel Pérez headed to the 15-day injured list with a right oblique strain suffered when pitching in the ninth inning of Saturday’s win. The Orioles called up right-hander Jonathan Heasley. Manager Brandon Hyde said he didn’t know about a timeline but hopes to have Pérez back “as soon as we can.”

Andy Kostka is an Orioles beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Orioles for The Baltimore Sun. Kostka graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Rockville.

First appeared on www.thebaltimorebanner.com

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