If there’s one thing we have learned about Tyler Wells as an Oriole, it’s that he isn’t going to stop giving maximum effort no matter the situation.
Today was another one of those moments, as Wells would hit the 55-pitch mark in 2.2 innings. He threw 35 strikes, and outside of a leadoff solo home run from Bryson Stott, he looked like the shutdown pitcher that was a league surprise last summer.
“I definitely think I came out with a little bit more aggression, kind of right out of the gate, something that as a whole I’ve talked about,” Wells said. “Just attacking guys, staying in the strike zone, but still kind of, I guess, getting ahead of guys and being able to put them away. Very happy with the result today, but still more work to do.”
Wells would allow only two hits and the one earned run, as he struck out five of the 11 batters he faced, hitting one and inducing one ground out and two fly outs. This is the Wells that could force difficult decisions when it comes to filling the starting rotation.
“It pissed me off,” Wells said on giving up a lead-off home run. “For me, I think that’s what happens whenever you fall behind 2-0 to the first guy of the game, and you throw him a cookie. I think that definitely kind of helped me get into that aggressive mode real quick.”
Andrew Politi, the Orioles’ Rule 5 Draft pick this year, dished up four runs on three hits, including two home runs, in just 0.2 innings of work. The young right-hander threw 31 pitches, 19 for strikes, collecting two strikeouts.
The enigmatic Bruce Zimmermann was doing Bruce Zimmermann things once again, as he tossed three innings, throwing 43 pitches, 26 for strikes. Zimm has a problem with the home run ball, as over his big league career, he has allowed 37 home runs in 31 career games.
The left-hander pitched clean innings in the fifth, thanks to a little help from Gunnar Henderson, and in the seventh but allowed two runs, one on a home run, in the sixth.
Joey Krehbiel, who has struggled this spring, pitched a perfect eighth inning as he fights for a bullpen role. He has previously allowed eight runs in 1.2 innings of work.
Ryan O’Hearn, who is fighting for the backup first base role, went 2-for-3 with a run scored. He improved to 9-for-17 this spring, which includes a double, a home run and four RBIs while slugging .579.
Franchy Cordero, who is also fighting for a role, had an RBI triple to improve to 7-for-18 on the spring. Cordero played right field today.
Jordan Westburg went 2-for-2 with a run scored. He tallied a double, a sacrifice fly and an infield hit while playing second base, as he improved to 6-for-20 on the spring.
“Fairly pleased,” Westburg said on his performance. “I felt like I put together two good at-bats against Nola, which I was really happy about. Obviously, he’s a top-of-the-line guy, and for me to get that experience off him was pretty cool. It was pretty special and definitely helps my game a little bit, comparing myself to what it’s going to be like up there.
Heston Kjerstad collected a triple to improve to 8-for-15 this spring, and Robert Neustrom hit a two-run homer in the seventh.
Overall, the Orioles’ offense scored six runs on 10 hits. They struck out nine times, going 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position, as they fell to the Phillies, 7-6.
Keegan Akin has tossed three scoreless innings across two appearances this spring. Orioles manager Brandon Hyde has high praise for him this spring.
“For me, he’s throwing the ball as good as anybody this spring,” Hyde said. “Great life to his fastball. I know he’s been working on his off-speed, also. I think his fastball is up to 95, gets on hitters. Throwing a ton of strikes. Off to a great start. We’re going to continue to kind of multi-inning him all the way through.”
Hyde says there will not be a limit on the amount of bullpen guys who can pitch multiple innings to start the season.
“I think the more multi-inning guys we have in our bullpen, the better, especially in April, when starters aren’t fully built up,” Hyde said. “You don’t want to back-to-back guys out of the bullpen as much early. To have guys be able to throw multiple innings is really valuable, especially early.”
Terrin Vavra is expected to return to the lineup against the Twins on Friday. He has been working back from shoulder soreness, as he has missed the last few games.
“It all went well today,” Hyde said. “I just got the text actually, all good. Check in the morning with him, and if he feels good, I’ll probably have him in there tomorrow.”
The Orioles have reassigned RHP Wandisson Charles, RHP Ofreidy Gómez, INF Coby Mayo, RHP Morgan McSweeney, OF Robert Neustrom, INF César Prieto, C Ramón Rodriguez, RHP Kade Strowd, INF Curtis Terry, RHP Cole Uvila, RHP Chris Vallimont and RHP Ryan Watson to minor league camp.
The Orioles are back at it tomorrow against the Twins with Kyle Bradish on the mound. Game time is set for 6:05 p.m. EST
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