BALTIMORE—The Orioles lost, 6-4, in 10 innings to the Tampa Rays on Wednesday night, but they might have suffered a bigger loss.
After throwing one pitch to Tampa Bay’s Yandy Diaz in the fifth inning, Oriole starting pitcher Tyler Wells doubled over in pain. Manager Brandon Hyde, pitching coach Chris Holt and head athletic trainer Brian Ebel hurried to the mound and, after a brief examination, Wells left with Ebel.
He was diagnosed with lower back and side discomfort, and will be examined further on Thursday.
“Hopefully, we’ll find out more in the morning on what it is,” Wells said. ‘We don’t really know.”
The injury came on a day when the Orioles introduced their top draft pick, Jackson Holliday, and staged more late-game heroics by tying the score, 4-4, in the bottom of the ninth on a home run by shortstop Jorge Mateo. But the events were overshadowed by Wells’ injury.
Wells has thrown 94 2/3 innings in his first season as a starter. He was used in relief by the Orioles last year, and had Tommy John surgery in 2019.
“My body has been kind of tight as of late, as far as hips, back,” Wells said. “I’ve been continually working on mobility stuff, staying on top of it. Nothing out of the ordinary, I guess. I haven’t been a [major league] starter. I haven’t thrown this many innings in three years. It’s definitely my body reacclimating to the overall workload.”
Wells had a six-game winning streak from May 30th-July 3rd but hasn’t won in his last four starts. He doesn’t know when his next one will be.
“It happened, and I was like, ‘oh, that didn’t feel great,’” Wells said. “I didn’t want to continue to try to test it because I know you see it so many times in other people, one extra one and it just reirritates it, and I wanted to make sure I stayed on top of it and didn’t really get to a point where I made it any worse.”
It’s likely the Orioles will need to find a starter for next Monday in Texas when Wells’ turn would come next. Matt Harvey, who is scheduled to pitch on Thursday for Triple-A Norfolk, could be an option. So could Kyle Bradish, DL Hall or Bruce Zimmermann.
Mateo’s clutch home run in the ninth gave the fans a lift, but Tampa Bay scored two runs against closer Jorge López in the 10th for the 6-4 win before an announced crowd of 13,592 at Camden Yards.
The loss returned the Orioles (49-49) to .500, but they remained a half-game ahead of the fourth-place Boston Red Sox, who lost to Cleveland.
With Taylor Walls the automatic runner at second in the 10th, Diaz singled, and López (4-6) walked Brandon Lowe to load the bases. Randy Arozarena doubled to right to score Walls and pinch-runner Roman Quinn.
Colin Poche (3-1) who gave up the game-tying home run, got the win, and Pete Fairbanks pitched the 10th for his first save.
Ji-Man Choi hit a two-run home run, his eighth, to left-center in the first against Wells.
Luke Raley hit his first homer leading off the third for a 3-0 Rays (53-45) lead.
The Orioles scored in the second on three singles by Anthony Santander, Ryan Mountcastle and Rougned Odor against Drew Rasmussen.
Adley Rutschman singled with one out in the third. Mancini walked. Rutschman took third on a fly ball by Santander and scored on a wild pitch by Rasmussen to make it 3-2.
Josh Lowe doubled and, after Wells struck out Walls, Dillon Tate replaced him after he’d thrown a ball to Diaz, who doubled to scored Lowe.
“Unfortunately, it’s something you never want to see,” Mateo said of Wells’ injury through a translator. “It’s going to happen. It was very sad to see, and right now we’re just praying to God that everything is OK and it’s nothing too bad.”
In the bottom of the fifth, Rasmussen hit Rutschman with a pitch, and Trey Mancini, who’d been 0-for-26, singled to right. Raley bobbled the ball, allowing Rutschman to score and Mancini to reach second.
After Rasmussen hit Santander, manager Kevin Cash brought in Ryan Thompson, who retired Mountcastle on a grounder to short.
Tate, Nick Vespi, Félix Bautista and Keegan Akin pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Wells.
The Orioles have used the bullpen for 15 1/3 innings in the first three games of the series.
Manager Brandon Hyde said it’s possible that the Orioles could get another fresh arm in addition to a replacement for Wells on the 26-man roster.
Tampa Bay nearly matched the effectiveness of the Orioles’ bullpen. Ryan Thompson, Brooks Raley and Jason Adam threw 3 1/3 scoreless innings.
With one out in the ninth, Mateo homered to right, his eighth, and leaped around the bases to tie the score at 4.
“Great to see him drive the ball the other way,” Hyde said. “A beautiful piece of hitting on a night that I felt we chased out of the zone.”
After Cedric Mullins struck out, Rutschman walked, and Mancini singled. Ryan McKenna pinch-ran and stayed at second as Santander struck out to end the inning.
Hyde was concerned about Wells but wanted to think positively.
“I’m hoping for the best,” he said. “I don’t want to make any judgments right now. He’s somebody that we’ve been trying to be careful with throughout this year and sometimes you can’t control some things.”
Notes: Mullins was credited with his seventh outfield assist when he doubled up Diaz in the first. He’s tied with Austin Hays for the team lead, and they’re third in the America League. … Jordan Lyles (6-8, 4.79) will face Ryan Yarbrough (0-5, 5.61) in the series finale on Thursday at 12:35 p.m.
Minor league update: Shortstop Gunnar Henderson homered twice and doubled in Triple-A Norfolk’s 13-10 win over Memphis. Henderson has eight home runs. Leftfielder Robert Neustrom drove in three runs, including hitting his 12th home run. The Tides scored six runs in the top of the ninth.
Centerfielder Colton Cowser hit a grand-slam in Double-A Bowie’s 12-3 win over Altoona. Cowser, who had three hits, is batting .319. Leftfielder Shayne Fontana and second baseman Connor Norby hit two-run home runs, their seventh and fourth. Shortstop Joey Ortiz hit his eighth.
Rightfielder Heston Kjerstad hit his first home run for High-A Aberdeen in the Ironbirds’ 8-3 loss to Asheville. Centerfielder Billy Cook hit his 10th home run and first baseman TT Bowens hit his seventh homer. Connor Gillispie (6-5) allowed five runs, four earned, on five hits in 1 2/3 innings.
First baseman Isaac De Leon had two doubles and his sixth home run in Single-A Delmarva’s 4-3 loss to Lynchburg.