BALTIMORE—For the first time since last August 27-29, the Orioles won a series at home. They also won consecutive games at home for the first time since then.
Left-hander John Means gave the Orioles five strong innings, and Mychal Givens registered his first save of the season and first two-inning save of his career in the Orioles’ 4-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night.
Means allowed a run on four hits, striking out six and walking one on his 26th birthday.
“I wish I could have gone a little longer and helped the bullpen out, but it feels good,” Means said.
Again, Means used his changeup as his out pitch.
“It’s saving me lately,” Means said. “I don’t really have my breaking stuff as good as I’d like and there’s a lot to improve on, but I’m happy with how it worked tonight.”
Manager Brandon Hyde disagreed slightly with Means’ assessment.
“Pretty good, right? Five really good innings,” Hyde said. “I loved the fact tonight that he flashed his breaking ball a little bit more and the breaking ball got a little better as the game went on. Just for an extra weapon so they can’t sit on two pitches.
“Yeah, he was really good again. Once again aggressive, attacks hitters, really good changeup. They took some really good at-bats against him early, and he stayed with it. So, it was an outstanding start on his birthday.”
With the return of Alex Cobb, who starts Friday against the Twins in Minnesota, and the addition of Dan Straily, who starts Saturday, Means has been in and out of the rotation. With a 1.74 ERA, Hyde would like to find a way to keep Means in it.
“I think John’s a pro and John is just starting his major league career, and he’s off to an unbelievable start and he’s got a long career ahead of him,” Hyde said. “And we have five months to go, and we’re going to put John in position to have success. So, we’ll see how it goes. I can’t answer if we’re going to go six-man rotation or if he goes back to the bullpen, that kind of thing. I think we’re going to let this play out a little bit, and we’ll go from there.”
Givens allowed a run in the ninth, and the game ended with Jose Abreu on third and Yoan Moncada grounding to Richie Martin, who had just entered the game as a defensive replacement. Martin, who was playing to the right of second base in a shift, slid to the ground after fielding the hard shot and made a strong throw to first for a dramatic finish.
“With the day off [Thursday], we needed him to go two, we wanted him to go two,” Hyde said about Givens. “I was trying to stay away from it but it’s kind of the way the game played, a two-run lead in the eighth inning, I felt good about sending him out there.”
Stevie Wilkerson hit his first major league home run in the fourth. At first, Wilkerson was ruled to have been hit by a pitch, but the ruling was reversed after a challenge, and he hit the home run instead.
“It felt good to round the bases,” Wilkerson said. “It was a weird at-bat before that. The umpire said I got hit by the pitch, and then I hit one down the line that was just foul, but I was able to settle in, and it felt really good.”
The two wins give the Orioles a 3-10 record at home.
“We haven’t been playing our best baseball here at home,” Hyde said. “I thought we played better on the road, so it’s nice to play a couple really good games. That was just a good baseball game. Some good pitching on both sides, some nice defense, a couple timely hits, the homer.
“Just a good game. I like the way we played the last couple nights. I like the way we’ve played for the most part this season. Tonight we won a close one, and we haven’t won a ton of close games, so it was a nice ballgame for us.”
Chris Davis missed the game because of a personal matter, Hyde said, and will meet the team in Minnesota on Friday.
Wright gets new home: Mike Wright, who was designated for assignment by the Orioles on Sunday, was traded to the Seattle Mariners for minor league infielder Ryne Ogren on Wednesday.
“Mike’s a great guy,” Hyde said. “We’re pulling for him. He had success here, ran into an unfortunate situation and now he’s getting another opportunity with a big league club, so good for him.
“Seattle’s getting a really good person over there and so I hope he has success.”
Ogren, 21, has been assigned to Low-A Delmarva.
Karns goes to Bowie: Nate Karns, who remains on the 10-day injured list because of right forearm tightness, will pitch for Double-A Bowie on Thursday.
“He’ll have a couple of outings, and then we’ll reassess,” Hyde said.
The Baysox were no-hit on Wednesday by Erie. It was the second time in 19 games Bowie had been no-hit. The Baysox are 4-15.
Extended homestand: After today’s off-day, the Orioles begin a three-game series in Minnesota. Three more games in Chicago follow.
The Orioles return home for their first extended homestand of 2019. They’ll play three-game series with Tampa Bay, Boston and the Los Angeles Angels beginning on May 3.
In May, the Orioles have 17 scheduled home games.