Mike Wright has become Orioles’ most consistent starter
— Through the first month of the regular season, Mike Wright has quietly become the Baltimore Orioles’ most consistent starting pitcher.
The hardthrowing righthander continued his strong start to the year on Friday, allowing two runs over six innings in a nondecision as Baltimore defeated the visiting Chicago White Sox 6-3 before an announced crowd of 19,912 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Wright, 26, finished the contest having allowed five hits and two walks with six strikeouts. He escaped
his final frame when center fielder Adam Jones snagged a line drive with the bases loaded and threw out hustling Jimmy Rollins at the plate for an inningending double play to preserve a one-run lead.
He exited having thrown 90 pitches, including 59 for strikes.
“Since the beginning of the season, even since the beginning of spring training, I’ve felt better and better every time I take the mound,” Wright said. “It’s very positive to go out there and really feel confident and feel like I can execute every pitch that [the catcher] puts down.
“It’s throwing off-speed pitches when I’m behind in the count, it’s throwing breaking balls that are quality. This time last year, I felt like some pitches were getting away from me and I kept repeating bad pitch, bad pitch, bad pitch. Now I feel like I’m settling back in and not throwing so many bad pitches in a row.”
Friday marked Wright’s third-consecutive outing of six complete innings or more—the longest streak among Oriole starters. He previously surrendered three runs over six innings in a 4-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on April 19, before allowing five runs on eight hits over 6 1-3 innings in a 6-1 loss against the Kansas City Royals on April 24.
His only victory came in a five-inning start on the road against the Boston Red Sox on April 12.
“Today was, I think, the best he’s thrown of any of the times I’ve caught him,” Orioles catcher Matt Wieters said of Wright’s start on Friday. “I think we’ll be able to take a lot out of this outing and move forward [and see] what kind of pitcher he can be. It was fun back there catching tonight. Even the runs they scored he made good pitches. For 90 pitches, or whatever he threw, he was focused as much as I’ve ever seen someone.”
Question marks surrounded the Orioles rotation following an offseason in which they made few compelling signings to address a starting staff that ranked near the bottom of the major leagues in ERA in 2015. Through one month, Wright (1-2, 5.40), who appeared in twelve games last season, has proven to be an effective option every fifth day.
Wright’s toughest frame Friday proved to be his final inning. After striking out leadoff hitter Austin Jackson, he walked Adam Eaton on four pitches before surrendering back-to-back singles to Jimmy Rollins and Jose Abreu (RBI). He then issued a free pass to Todd Frazier to load the bases, losing the cleanup hitter when his fastball just missed low on a 3-2 count.
Wright fell to his knees in frustration, while reliever Vance Worley warmed in the bullpen. One batter later, Melky Cabrera flew out to Jones, who made a difficult belt-high catch before delivering a one-bounce throw to Wieters, who applied the quick tag on Rollins for the double play.
“I want to give [Wright] those opportunities. There’s only one way for him to gain experience to get through it. And let’s be fair, Adam Jones made as good a play as you’ll ever see and Matt made a great tag to kind of take away that momentum they had going there, especially in that part of the order,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “But, he attacked the strike zone. He’d like to have that four-pitch walk to Eaton back—that’s one that got him a little bit of a bind there after pitching Jackson tough—but you hope they learn from things that they’re exposed to.
“There’s only so much experience that you can give them before they start getting better from it. I don’t pay a lot of attention [to stats] early, but it seems like he’s pitching a lot better than the numbers. It’s just the one inning that’s kind of gotten away from him.”
Follow Jordan Schatz on Twitter: @Jordan_Whig