ST. PETERSBURG, Florida—Oriole starting pitcher Tyler Wells had an awful second inning, and it cost him the game.
Wells allowed back-to-back home runs, walked a batter and committed two errors in the second. Four runs scored, and the Orioles were on their way to a 7-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays before an announced crowd of 19,493 at Tropicana Field on Wednesday.
The Orioles (45-28) split the two-game series with the Rays (52-25), and they leave for home trailing Tampa Bay by five games in the American League East. That’s where they were when the series began.
While the Orioles didn’t win the series, they did avoid losing their 16th straight series to the Rays at Tropicana Field, a streak that began in 2017.
“I think it’s incredibly frustrating,” Wells said. “I think you can probably put that entire loss on my back.”
Randy Arozarena and Isaac Paredes hit back-to-back home runs to begin the second. It was Arozarena’s 16th home run against the Orioles in 42 games. Wells has allowed 18 home runs this season.
“I challenge guys. I don’t walk a lot of guys,” Wells said. “With challenging guys comes home runs, and prior to this, most of my runs this year have been given on homers. Is that something I’d like to change? Absolutely, but I think I’ve got to figure out some other things, keep guys on their toes and execute better pitches.”
Manuel Margot hit a comebacker to Wells, and he muffed it for an error. Taylor Walls walked, and both runners moved up a base on Christian Bethancourt’s fly ball to center. Wells picked up José Siri’s roller and threw it past first base, and both Margot and Walls scored.
“I can live with the solo homers,” Wells said. “One of them, I didn’t think was going to go out, but it’s the physical error that’s going to haunt me. Those are things that are completely unacceptable.”
It was 4-0, and Wells became the first Oriole pitcher to commit two errors in an inning since David Hess on September 2nd, 2018, according to STATS.
“He’s a good fielding pitcher, too, and just a couple of plays that were uncharacteristic that he didn’t make,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Just a really bad game for us.”
Hyde had Logan Gillaspie warming in the second, but Wells was able to make it through the fifth, the third straight Oriole starter who pitched precisely five innings.
Wells (6-3) allowed four hits in five innings.
Ramón Urias hit his third home run of the season against Taj Bradley (5-3) in the third in his first start against the Orioles. Bradley allowed three hits and struck out eight in six innings. After Urías led off the third with the homer, Bradley retired 12 of 13 Orioles.
“We had a hard time stringing together some hits against him, trying to get some momentum going,” Austin Hays said.
Bradley struck out Gunnar Henderson in his first two at-bats, giving Henderson five strikeouts in consecutive at-bats before he singled with one out in the sixth. Bradley also struck out Adley Rutschman twice. In the sixth, Rutschman was so disturbed by a called third strike by home plate umpire Jeremie Rehak that he pointed his bat far outside the strike zone, indicating where he thought the pitch was.
It was the Orioles’ first look at Bradley.
“You do all the scouting reports beforehand, but until you’re in the box, really seeing how the ball is moving, how they’re trying to attack you, there’s adjustments that have to be made in the game,” Hays said. “I feel like he had a good game plan against us today. He did a good job working his pitches to both sides of the plate. He threw a lot of strikes. We just didn’t adjust fast enough to what he was doing today.”
Tampa Bay added two runs in the seventh against Keegan Akin on Wander Franco’s sacrifice fly and Arozarena’s RBI single.
Yandy Diaz’s RBI single against Cole Irvin in the eighth gave the Rays a 7-1 lead. Hyde said that Irvin will get a start in the next several days.
Henderson homered to start the ninth, his 11th.
Notes: After an offday on Thursday, the Orioles begin a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners. Kyle Gibson (8-4, 3.94) and Logan Gilbert (4-4, 4.31) will start Friday. Dean Kremer (8-3, 4.56) and Bryce Miller (5-3, 3.68) are scheduled to start Saturday. Hyde hasn’t decided on who will face George Kirby (6-6, 3.29) on Sunday. … Single-A Delmarva’s game against Augusta was postponed by rain. … Ryan O’Hearn was 1-for-4. He’s batting .469 in his last nine games.