ST. PETERSBURG, Florida—The Orioles leave Tropicana Field with a two-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East. On Sunday, they won their third in four games against the Rays, allowing just three hits in a 5-3 win before an announced crowd of 23,440.
Oriole starter Tyler Wells allowed the first hit, a two-run home run to Yandy Diaz, in the fifth while walking four and hitting two batters in 4 1/3 innings. In his last two starts, he has worked just 6 1/3 innings.
The Orioles (61-38) were rescued by reliever Mike Baumann (7-0), who threw 2 2/3 hitless innings. He walked two and struck out two. Yennier Cano threw a spotless eighth, and Félix Bautista recorded his 28th save, but allowed a one-out single to Manuel Margot and a two-out single by Diaz in the ninth.
The three wins gave the Orioles a 6-3 record against the Rays (61-42) this season. The teams will play another four-game series at Oriole Park from September 14th-17th.
“Tough place to play, trouble playing here in the past and we just played four really good games against a really good team,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We did a lot of things well this series and hopefully we can keep it rolling into Philly.”
Gunnar Henderson led off the first with an infield single and Adley Rutschman drove him in with a double against Tampa Bay starter Taj Bradley.
Adam Frazier doubled with two outs in the second and Henderson hit his 16th home run off the D-ring catwalk, measuring 446 feet, and it was 3-0.
“I felt like I got that one pretty good,” Henderson said. “It was the first time I ever hit the catwalk. I’ve never done it in [batting practice.] That was pretty cool to see that.”
Wells struggled throughout with his control, hitting Harold Ramirez in the first and Isaac Paredes in the second.
In the fourth, Wells walked Ramirez and Randy Arozarena. Ramirez moved to third on Paredes’ fly ball and scored when Brandon Lowe hit into a fielder’s choice.
“He doesn’t normally hit guys or walk people,” Hyde said. “That’s why I took him out of the game because it wasn’t a normal Tyler Wells outing. We’re going to continue to monitor him. He’s thrown a lot of innings and he’s not used to this many innings, but we need him.”
Wells walked Bethancourt and allowed Diaz’s homer. Baumann replaced Wells after Wander Franco popped to short. Wells allowed three runs on one hit in 4 1/3 innings.
“Didn’t have a good rhythm. I felt like I put in a lot of really good work between last start and this start,” Wells said. “Out there today, it didn’t quite translate.”
Wells had just one hit batter in 106 2/3 innings entering the game and hit two in the first two innings.
“Ultimately, I paid for it. Very frustrating,” Wells said. “I’m not going to look at the negatives too much. I’m going to continue to take the positives out of it. I did make some progress on things I was working on, just going to continue.”
Wells has already thrown 111 innings, a career high.
“I feel good. I didn’t have any issues. I feel strong,” he said. “As the year goes on, you can continue to develop bad habits that creep their way in and you don’t really recognize it. I recognize it now, and I’m going to continue to focus on those and make sure I get back after it and knock them out.”
Baumann’s work impressed his manager.
“Player of the game,” Hyde said. “That was two-plus innings right in the meat of the game there. Did a great job keeping the score there for us.”
Ryan O’Hearn remained in the game when left-hander Colin Poche (7-3) entered for the sixth, and he homered off the left field foul pole, just his fourth lifetime home run against a left-hander, to give the Orioles a 4-3 lead. It was O’Hearn’s eighth home run of the season.
“Just to shoot down the line, obviously great spot in the game to get a runt there, but personally for me, it warranted a smile,” O’Hearn said.
It was the second straight game O’Hearn drove in the go-ahead run.
“I’ve been feeling confident,” O’Hearn said. “Definitely the way things are going right now are awesome. I’m trying to stay focused on the process and the work in the cage. As soon as you start patting yourself on the back, things can go south … Definitely enjoying the big hits and contributing.”
Colton Cowser reached on a Paredes error to start the seventh. Jake Diekman walked Henderson with one out, and Anthony Santander’s RBI single scored Cowser, and the Orioles led, 5-3.
“We’re all just getting comfortable,” Henderson said. “We all know what each and every one of us do well and I feel like we take that each and every day and go out there and do the best we can.”
The Orioles won four of six games at Tropicana Field this season after going 3-19 from 2020-2022.
“Two really good teams going at it,” O’Hearn said. “It was a grinder every game. They’ve got a really good team over there. So do we. Every pitch matters. Every inning matters, every hit. I’m trying to take it one pitch at a time, play as hard as we can. Glad we came out on top. It’s only July. We’ve got a long way to go. Definitely take a win here on the road against these guys and feel good about ourselves.”
Notes: The Orioles play a three-game series at Philadelphia. Dean Kremer (10-4, 4.80) and Christopher Sanchez (0-3, 3.06) will start on Monday at 6:40 p.m. Kyle Gibson (9-6, 4.76) and Taijuan Walker (11-4, 4.11) are scheduled to start Tuesday, and Kyle Bradish (6-6, 3.05) and Ranger Suárez (2-5, 4.07) will pitch on Wednesday.
Minor league update: Drew Rom (7-6) allowed six runs on seven hits in five innings as Triple-A Norfolk lost to Gwinnett, 6-2. Second baseman Connor Norby had both RBIs and first baseman Heston Kjerstad had three hits and is hitting .344.
Austin Voth allowed a leadoff home run to Robert Hassell III in two innings in his rehab assignment in Double-A Bowie’s 4-3 win over Harrisburg. Voth, who is on the 15-day injured list with right elbow discomfort, gave up two hits and stuck out two.
Designated hitter Billy Cook hit his 12th home run.
DH Silas Ardoin drove in two runs and hit his fifth homer in High-A Aberdeen’s 8-2 win over Bowling Green.