Orioles Notebook: Austin Hays Enjoying Breakout Season, Tyler Wells Earns First Win

Orioles left fielder Austin Hays is making a strong early push to earn his first-ever appearance in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

Hays is not only producing at the plate, he’s been one of the best defenders in the majors this season. In the process, the 26-year-old has led the Orioles to four wins in their past five games.

“When he swings at strikes, like I’ve said a lot, he hits the ball hard,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “Right now, I feel like he’s a little bit more patient, he’s getting in good counts, he’s taking some walks. He’s not trying to do too much. When Austin doesn’t try to do too much, he’s extremely dangerous because he hits the ball so hard, he’s got so much power to both sides of the field.

“He can be a good hitter. [He’s] just a little bit more control in the batter’s box right now.”

Hays, who was selected by the Orioles in the third round (No. 91 overall) of the 2016 MLB Draft, has reached base safely in 12 of his last 14 plate appearances (nine hits, two walks and a hit by pitch) dating back to the sixth inning against the Minnesota Twins May 5.

Hays is riding a six-game hitting streak, batting .571 (12-for-21) with two doubles, one home run, six runs scored and three RBIs during that stretch. He has also reached base safely at least three times seven times this year. Entering the Orioles’ May 9 game against the Royals, his six games reaching base at least three times ranked tied for fifth in MLB.

On the year, Hays is slashing .327/.403/.500 with three homers and 12 RBIs. Last year, he slashed .256/.308/.461 with 22 homers, 26 doubles and 71 RBIs.

Hays said the entire lineup has made adjustments this season.

“It’s something that we had to look at last year, how teams were attacking us,” Hays said. “They knew we were a young, aggressive team, and a lot of times we would give in to that and swing at borderline pitches early in the count, so that was just a point of emphasis for our team last year, and I think it’s just really starting to show this year. A lot of the stuff we were doing.”

Last season, Hays led the Orioles with nine outfield assists (five in right field and five in left field), tied for seventh most in the AL and tied for the 10th most in the majors. He’s picked up where he left off in that regard.

Hays is eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2022 season, but for now, his only focus is helping the Orioles win some games.

“It feels like we can really grow together as a team and get closer,” Hays said. “I think that will show up in wins on the field. I think we can build those relationships together that it’s just been tough to do the last couple of years.”

Wells Earns First Win

Tyler Wells has continued to shine in the rotation.

He picked up first win as a starter in a 6-1 victory against Kansas City May 9. Wells, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019, threw a career-high 6.0 innings, allowing one run on five hits with three strikeouts. It was also the first quality start of his career.

Wells became the first Orioles starting pitcher to not issue a walk in four straight games since Tommy Milone in 2020. He retired 14 of his last 16 batters faced.

Overall, Wells is 1-2 with a 3.75 ERA.

“Since Tommy John surgery, I guess six innings and a quality start is what you could consider a milestone,” Wells said. “The way I’m looking at it is just make sure that I go out there and give my team a chance to win and that is exactly what happened today, so happy about that.”

Mountcastle Avoids Serious Injury

The Orioles dodged another major injury when first baseman Ryan Mountcastle rolled his ankle sliding into second base in the second game of a doubleheader against the Kansas City Royals May 8.

“Watching that, that didn’t look good,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said May 9. “But we dodged a bullet there and he feels good today. Think a little bit sore, but not too bad.”

It worked out well for the Orioles, as Mountcastle went 1-for-4 with an RBI in the Orioles’ 4-2 win in the second game. Mountcastle was back in the lineup for the following day and drove in another run in a 6-1 victory against the Royals.

Mountcastle has an RBI in five consecutive games, which is tied for the longest active streak in the big leagues.

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox

Todd Karpovich

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