BALTIMORE -- Alex Wood might not have a crystal ball that can tell him whether he is destined to end this season in the manner that he did last year, when he posted a 1.92 ERA over his final 11 starts. But the results the Braves southpaw garnered during Monday night's 2-1, 11-inning loss to the Orioles provide him some confidence that his recent mechanical adjustment has him headed in the right direction.
"I hope that what [Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell] and I have been talking about is going to help me move in the right direction," Wood said. "At the same time, you want to be competitive and you hope that will happen because that was a pretty good run I went on last year."
As Wood posted a 4.28 ERA through his first seven starts this season, he attempted to make numerous mechanical adjustments to help him gain better success with his changeup and sinker. But the 24-year-old left-hander never truly gained confidence in his adjustments until he moved to the first-base side of the rubber while limiting the Dodgers to three earned runs in six innings last week.
Building off the success of that outing, Wood proved much more dominant against the Orioles, limiting them to three singles over 7 1/3 scoreless innings. J.J. Hardy was awarded one of these singles in the second inning, when Wood was not able to get his foot on the first-base bag while receiving Freddie Freeman's toss.
"The only thing I was worried about was the pitch count with Woody, because he was dominant," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
During his 111-pitch outing, Wood did not allow the Orioles to advance past first base. He retired 12 consecutive batters after surrendering Hardy's fortune-filled single in the second inning and notched seven strikeouts, including a pair in the first inning, after allowing Nolan Reimold to begin the frame with a single to center.
"I feel like in the past two [starts], the action on my fastball and changeup have been sharper all the way around," Wood said. "Now, it's just one of those things where you have to keep repeating it mechanically from that side and hopefully, continue to move in the right direction."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.