It’s been this way before for the Orioles, even if it’s just a small sample size. When an inning looks promising at the plate, there are few examples of that promise turning into runs, and it continued Monday night against the Minnesota Twins at Camden Yards.

There were few opportunities as it was. But with runners on the corners with one out in the sixth inning, when a comeback from a one-run deficit seemed attainable, a soft bouncing ball off the bat of first baseman Ryan Mountcastle ended it just as swiftly — a double play to retire the side and preserve Minnesota’s eventual 2-1 victory.

For as lively as Sunday’s series-clinching victory against the Boston Red Sox had been — with the Orioles plating a season-high nine runs — the offense didn’t carry over into the opener of a four-game series with the Twins. There were hints, such as a triple from second baseman Rougned Odor, but they didn’t materialize into anything stronger.

That isn’t unique, however. And even as right-hander Tyler Wells set a promising table, a lack of production doomed Baltimore (8-15) to begin the series.

“We had really good at-bats, really the first half of the game,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Just not a whole lot of — nothing fell for us there. But we drove the ball, we lined out a bunch.”

Wells blew through the first three innings on a combined 25 pitches, riding a four-seam fastball and curveball to force weak contact. None of the first seven batters sent balls out of the infield, and none reached base until first baseman Luis Arraez singled in the fourth.

That was the first sign of trouble for Wells, who needed 26 pitches to strand two runners in the fourth. While Hyde said before the game that Wells will infrequently reach five innings because of a post-Tommy John surgery limit, he returned for the fifth with 51 pitches.

A double from designated hitter Trevor Larnach and an RBI single via catcher Ryan Jeffers on consecutive pitches got the Twins on the board before a double play wiped out the threat and ended Wells’ night on 62 pitches. He allowed four hits and struck out four in five innings.

“We need Tyler to pitch for us for this year, and so that’s the challenge, honestly,” Hyde said. “I don’t want to take him out, but it’s a challenge right now. He reached five innings and got him out of the game.”

It was another strong display from Wells, even if his pitch restrictions put a strain on the bullpen. Still, he finished his third straight start without walking a batter; only two pitchers in the league entering Monday held walk-less streaks of three games or longer.

“I don’t like walking people. I don’t like giving freebies away,” Wells said. “There is a time and place to pitch around guys given the situation or given their streaks, but I’m not gonna back down, I’m not gonna let guys get on base for free and not be competitive.”

The bullpen was nearly fully stocked because of right-hander Jordan Lyles’ six-inning outing Sunday against the Red Sox — and, as has been a theme this season, that bullpen kept Baltimore in the game.

The Orioles’ bullpen ranked second in the majors in wins above replacement entering Monday, according to FanGraphs. Apart from shortstop Carlos Correa’s RBI single to drive in center fielder Byron Buxton, the bullpen allowed three hits in four innings. Right-hander Félix Bautista’s 1 2/3 innings stood out, as he struck out two batters while allowing one hit.

“I think as the season goes on, we’re going to start to see some triple digits,” left-hander Paul Fry said. “The guy just attacks the zone, so I think any time you’re facing him, it’s going to be a tough at-bat.”

But that pitching was the bright spot for an Orioles team that otherwise lacked an offensive spark.

The presence of Elrod’s Corner made itself felt — literally — for the first time this season, when Twins left fielder Nick Gordon slid into the left-center field angle as he chased down a fly ball from Odor. It turned into a triple, and Ramón Urías immediately knocked Odor in with a sacrifice fly.

Beyond that spurt, though, there was little life for the Orioles on the basepaths, as they finished with four hits. They stranded four runners, hit 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position and left an announced crowd of 7,427 — the smallest at Camden Yards this season — with little to rouse them.

And it combined to create a result that has been seen so frequent this year: A worthy pitching effort went unsupported, resulting in another close loss.

“Just not getting it to fall right now,” Hyde said.

Mancini still out with sore ribs

Trey Mancini knew immediately something was wrong. He crashed into the wall Friday as he chased down a ball, and the barking of his ribs soon followed. After he watched back the tape, he saw the issue more clearly.

“I think I elbowed myself going into the wall,” Mancini said Monday afternoon. “I knew I hurt it. I stayed in the rest of the game, but I woke up a couple days ago and it was rough. I’ve never really done anything to my ribs. It felt like I was getting stabbed, honestly.”

Mancini missed his third straight game with that rib injury, although he said all the tests came back negative. At this point, Mancini said it’s about pain management. He figured he would be available off the bench Monday in a big spot, but that didn’t come to fruition.

The previous days, though, Mancini couldn’t think about playing.

“It was to the point where breathing, sneezing, coughing, it was pretty painful,” Mancini said. “But it’s improved today.”

Without Mancini in the lineup, Tyler Nevin slotted into the designated hitter role.


Hyde said that he would miss what Ryan McKenna brought to the outfield as a defensive replacement. But when deciding who to demote to reduce the 28-man roster to 26 by Monday’s deadline, the calculus when it came to McKenna included the versatility of other players and a desire to get the 25-year-old more regular playing time.

“We felt like it was more important … for him to go get consistent at-bats and to go play,” Hyde said before the game. “And with [Austin] Hays, [Cedric] Mullins and [Anthony] Santander staying healthy, Trey in the outfield some also, [Nevin] possibly playing some corner, we thought it was the most important thing for him and his career for him to go get more at-bats and I’m sure you’ll see him up here soon.”

The Orioles also designated third baseman Kelvin Gutiérrez for assignment Monday to reach the required number of players. They stuck with 14 pitchers for the time being, giving them more flexibility in the bullpen even if it limits Baltimore to a three-man bench.

Gutiérrez was the “odd guy out” in the infield after his .143 start at the plate. Designating Gutiérrez opened a place on the 40-man roster, which could be filled later this month if Baltimore decides to promote catcher Adley Rutschman, baseball’s top prospect, to the big leagues.

“Flexibility on your roster is extremely important,” Hyde said. “[Nevin] can play both corners. He can play both corners, infield and outfield. He has done that. That’s why I moved him around a lot in spring training, had him play everywhere. [Chris Owings] has played really everywhere in the big leagues other than first base and catcher. I’m comfortable putting him anywhere, also. Being able to play multiple positions is a huge thing these days.”


Tuesday, 7:05 p.m.


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