Against Rangers, Orioles’ Alexander Wells seeks first win as starter

MLB Baseball

Baltimore Orioles rookie left-hander Alexander Wells will take another shot at his first major league victory as a starting pitcher when he takes the mound against the visiting Texas Rangers on Friday night.

Wells (1-3, 7.96 ERA) is scheduled to make his seventh start of the season in the second game of a four-game series.

His start will come less than 24 hours after another Baltimore rookie left-hander claimed his first major league win. Zac Lowther threw five effective innings in a 3-0 victory against Texas on Thursday night, the second shutout in the past four games for Baltimore (49-104).

Wells became the 13th Australian-born pitcher to start a major league game when he faced the Tampa Bay Rays on July 21.

The 24-year-old was in line to win that game after limiting the Rays to three runs in 5 2/3 innings, but Tampa Bay scored twice in the bottom of the ninth to prevail 5-4.

Wells has not thrown enough innings to be eligible for a win in three of his five starts since the Tampa Bay game, or he hasn’t been sharp enough. A couple of times, it was a combination of both.

Wells allowed five runs and seven hits in four innings on Sept. 14 against the New York Yankees and took the loss in the 7-2 defeat.

He gave up five runs and six hits in five innings on Sunday against the Boston Red Sox and did not receive the decision in the Orioles’ 8-6 loss.

Wells said he’s looking forward to facing a team from outside the powerful American League East.

“It’s been pretty difficult, but a challenge which I’ve been looking forward to,” he said. “I’m always up for the challenge and just want to keep it going.”

The Rangers will counter with right-hander Spencer Howard, who is aiming for his first victory since he was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies on July 30.

Howard (0-4, 6.86 ERA overall) has made six starts for Texas (55-98) but hasn’t thrown more than three innings in those outings.

Howard, a second-round pick by Philadelphia in the 2017 draft, is coming off his sharpest outing for the Rangers. He threw three shutout innings against the visiting Chicago White Sox on Saturday. Howard allowed one hit, struck out three and walked three in a game that Texas won 2-1.

“My goal for (Saturday) was just to go out and compete,” Howard said. “I think I threw a lot more pitches with a lot more conviction than in my past starts.”

The Rangers haven’t won since that contest, dropping consecutive games.

Texas manager Chris Woodward is hoping for better run support for Howard after the Rangers were limited to three runs or fewer for the ninth straight game on Thursday.

“I think it’s kind of wearing on us a little bit,” Woodward said. “For a while there, we were doing a decent job. I think it comes with a youthful team and an inexperienced team. You kind of ride the highs and ride the lows a little too much.”

Woodward was particularly frustrated with the second inning on Thursday, when the Rangers put their first two batters on base and then had back-to-back strikeouts and a groundout to the pitcher.

“Three at-bats in a row we didn’t even get a good swing off on a quality pitch,” he said. “That’s something we can control, and that’s something that we have to do a better job of or we’re not going to put runs on the board.”

–Field Level Media

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