BALTIMORE — Brayan Bello averaged 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings during the 18 games he pitched in the minor leagues this season. Whenever he needed an out, the 23-year-old Red Sox righthander had the ability to overmatch most hitters.
Bello has a 5.91 earned run average in eight major league games. The lessons are coming fast.
“For me the biggest thing I’ve learned is you have to pitch to get outs, not to get swing and misses or strikeouts. Just get the out,” he said via a translator. “These games have taught me a lot.”
Sox manager Alex Cora was happy to hear the rookie was thinking that way.
“That’s the most important thing, be efficient,” he said. “You see Michael [Wacha] and how he works. That’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Bello will be coming off the best start of his brief major league career when he faces the Orioles on Friday night at Camden Yards. He fired six shutout innings against the Texas Rangers at Fenway Park on Saturday to get his first victory.
Bello allowed three hits, walked one, and struck out five.
“I feel very confident after my last start,” he said. “Now I feel like I have the confidence to throw my pitches for a strike and know they’re not going to get hit that much. I don’t have to go around the batters too much.”
Bello’s changeup has been his best pitch to date. His fastball and sinker have above-average velocity, but have been catching too much of the plate.
There’s a chance Bello will face the Yankees twice before the season ends and the Blue Jays in the final week. Going up against contenders will tell the Red Sox a lot about how Bello could fit into their plans for 2023.
“We’re going to face really good teams, and I have to pitch my best and be 100 percent to beat those teams,” he said. “I can keep getting experience that I can transfer to next year.”
Bello has mixed in well with the other starters and is learning how to best use his four days between starts.
“He’s really good at getting information and then executing on the mound,” Cora said. “There are a lot of guys helping him out. I saw him talking to Nate [Eovaldi] about his changeup grip during a game.
“Little by little, he’s learning how to use his stuff.”
Bello said his mother, Yaselys, will be coming to Fenway Park next week to see him pitch. She has never seen him pitch professionally.
“I’m excited about that,” he said. “This has been a dream come true for my family.”
Rise of the Orioles
Cora was impressed by the Orioles at the end of last season, when they took two of three from a Sox team fighting to make the playoffs.
“It started last year in the second half of the season. Their pitching was different,” he said. “Different angles, different pitches. Good fastballs. Then in spring training you saw they were working in the young talent. You saw they had something good.”
Cora worked with Orioles general manager Mike Elias and assistant GM Sig Mejdal in Houston in 2017, and knew they would change the franchise for the better.
“They had a process they followed,” Cora said. “It started in Houston with the pitching and they’re doing it again.”
The Orioles are 72-65 and in fourth place in the Wild Card standings, 4½ games out of a spot.
“They were in the bottom for a while and got the best players in the draft,” Cora said. “Now you can see it changing. They’re going to be a force.”
The Sox are 5-7 against the Orioles this season, 2-4 at Camden Yards.
Austin Voth is scheduled to face the Sox on Friday. The righthander is 4-2 with a 2.71 ERA in 17 games since being claimed off waivers from the Nationals in June.
Wong will get a look
Rookie catcher Connor Wong started Wednesday’s 1-0 loss at Tampa Bay, and is scheduled to start both Friday night and Sunday afternoon.
“He’s going to start playing more and more. We need to see what he can do,” Cora said.
Wong, 26, was one of the prospects obtained from the Dodgers in the Mookie Betts trade. He had an .839 OPS and 15 home runs in 81 games for Triple A Worcester this season.
“We like him a lot; we like the things he’s done throughout the season in Triple A,” Cora said. “Offensively he’s catching up.”
Wong has hit .241 with a .772 OPS in 15 major league games going back to last season.
The Sox were 2 for 17 with runners in scoring position in the three-game series at Tampa Bay. Their .741 OPS in such situations is just a tick below the league average of .742 . . . Barring something unusual, no Sox player will reach 100 runs scored this season. That last happened in 2015 . . . Lefthander Jake Diekman, who was traded to the White Sox on Aug. 1, was the team’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award for Community Service. Diekman started the Gut It Out Foundation in 2015 to aid people with ulcerative colitis.