Australia’s most recent Major League Baseball debutant Alexander Wells was given the starting duties on the mound for the Baltimore Orioles in an eventual 4-5 walk-off loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
The New South Welshman lasted 5.2 innings with the ball, striking out seven hitters although giving up five hits for three runs, including two that cleared the fence.
It was a tough night from the start for Wells, who surrendered a second-pitch home run to Rays lead-off hitter Randy Arozarena in the bottom of the first. Wells was able to secure the outs of the next two hitters before back-to-back walks had him in trouble yet again, although struck out Ji-Man Choi for the final out before any further damage.
Wells gave up two singles in the second inning which prompted a mound visit, but faith was shown in the 24-year-old as three outs were recorded within the following three hitters at-bats.
A fielding error marred what could’ve been a three-up, three-down third innings. Wells and his Orioles teammates recovered to collect the necessary outs to get out of trouble.
With Baltimore leading 3-2 as play entered the bottom of the fourth, the Orioles were able to retire three batters in quick succession to maintain the lead entering into the second half of the game.
Another lead-off home run off the bat of Arozarena, this time with the first pitch of the bottom half of the fifth innings tied the ballgame at three-all. Wells struck out the next hitter before giving up a single to Austin Meadows, though the Orioles were tight in defence, finishing the innings by limiting the opposition to the one run.
Baltimore gained the lead again at the top of the sixth, giving Wells some room to breathe heading into the sixth innings. The lefty got the first two hitters to strikeout and lineout respectively, though the Baltimore manager elected to replace Wells after that point, bringing in Cole Sulser.
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Speaking to media post-game, Wells said that despite the early home run and walks, he eased into the game and began to better work his craft.
“Third inning onwards I felt a lot better,” Wells said.
“Instead of trying to nibble around the plate I just went out there and attacked the zone like I normally do and I have been doing lately. Knowing that my stuff can play here gives me confidence going into my next appearance.
“Just [to] go back to what I‘ve been doing, gather my thoughts and try not to really think about the situation, just go up there and pitch, get ahead and try and get a quick out, get back in the dugout as quick as and get the guys back ot there to swing it.”
Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde commended Wells’ first start of his career with the team.
“He really competed,” Hyde said.
“He doesn’t have the fastball that is going to blow by people. But he does compete with what he has and did a nice job of commanding the baseball after the second inning.”
Wells became the first Australian native to start for Baltimore since Damian Moss, another New South Wales local, in 2003 and the 13th Australian-born pitcher to start in an MLB game. Victorian Lewis Thorpe, currently with the Minnesota Twins, has also received a start this MLB season.
Wells became the 36th Australian to make their MLB debut when he entered a June 26 game against the Toronto Blue Jays. He earned the first win of his MLB career in his second appearance on June 29.
In three outings for the Orioles this season Wells has a 4.35 ERA across 10.1 innings with a 1-0 win-loss record. He’s given up 10 hits for five runs with eight strikeouts.
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