The Baltimore Orioles and host Oakland Athletics hope to find a break in the clouds and attract a few more fans when they complete their four-game, pitching-dominated series on Thursday afternoon.
Right-handers Tyler Wells (0-1, 6.35 ERA) of the Orioles and Paul Blackburn (1-0, 1.80) of the A’s are the expected starters one day after a scheduled night game had to be moved to the afternoon with rain in the evening forecast.
The change in starting time no doubt played a role in the game’s attendance, which was announced at 2,703, the smallest in Oakland for a non-COVID-impacted game since 2,443 showed up for a win over the Texas Rangers in September of 1980.
Wednesday’s attendance figure was more than 1,000 fewer than Tuesday night, when the crowd of 3,748 also had been the smallest in Oakland in 42 years.
Losing pitcher Daulton Jefferies acknowledged after Wednesday’s game that the goal each day is to create something that can be built upon in the clubhouse as well as in the community.
“We’re just trying to create a positive situation, a positive environment and give the team the best chance to win,” he said of Oakland’s starting staff that has lost Chris Bassitt and Sean Manaea since last season. “We’re all just young and hungry guys.”
The Orioles finally broke through with a 1-0 win on Wednesday after dropping the first two games of the series 5-1 and 2-1.
The set so far has featured a total of just 39 hits, with the losing team out-hitting the winning team on each occasion.
Only nine of the 39 hits have gone for extra bases, with no home runs. The Orioles have five of the series’ eight doubles and the lone triple.
Relievers have dominated the series, allowing a total of just two earned runs in 20 2/3 innings.
Wells will try to duplicate Jordan Lyles’ five shutout innings Wednesday as the 27-year-old bids a second straight strong start.
After getting bombed by the Tampa Bay Rays to the tune of four runs in 1 2/3 innings in his season debut, the second-year major-leaguer rebounded to blank the Yankees on three hits over four innings last Saturday in a 5-2 defeat.
Wells has faced the A’s once previously, and it was not under ideal circumstances. He took over for starter Wade LeBlanc in the second inning in a home game last April and allowed three runs – all on a Jed Lowrie homer – in two innings.
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde plans to give Wells, who pitched strictly out of the bullpen as a rookie last season, an opportunity to become a long-term member of the team’s starting staff.
“We’re going to find out about him,” Hyde said. “We have high hopes and think he has a huge future. We want to give him a look as a starter and see how it goes, because we think he’s going to be an impact big-league pitcher in some role for the rest of his career.”
Blackburn, meanwhile, will be making his third career start against the Orioles, having beaten them each of the first two times in 2017 without getting a decision. He ran up a 3.72 ERA in 5-4 and 6-4 wins.
The 28-year-old likewise has started two Oakland wins this season, a 13-2 romp at Tampa Bay and a 7-5 triumph at Toronto, allowing a combined two runs and eight hits in 10 innings. He got his win in the victory over the Rays.
–Field Level Media