NEW YORK—The Orioles’ level of concern about John Means must be rising. Means, the Orioles’ lone All-Star player, pitched for the fifth time after the All-Star Game, and lost for the fourth time.
In five starts since the break, Means has allowed 21 runs in 22 2/3 innings for an 8.34 ERA.
Means was on the 10-day injured list with left biceps soreness between the third and fourth starts. He showed little effectiveness against the New York Yankees on Tuesday night.
For the third straight start, Means couldn’t complete the fourth innings, allowing six runs on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings as the Orioles lost their 15th consecutive game to the Yankees, 8-3.
“I didn’t have anything tonight,” Means said. “It’s tough to not have anything with that lineup. It’s frustrating, but I’ll come back in five days and be better.”
Again, the Orioles gave up runs early. By the fourth inning, the Orioles were down, 7-1.
DJ LeMahieu hit Means’ first pitch for a home run. It was the 60th home run allowed by the Orioles to the Yankees this season. Cameron Maybin’s two-run single made it 3-0 in the second.
“There were certain mechanical issues going on throughout the game,” Means said. “I recognized it but couldn’t fix it in time. It was one of those games.”
Anthony Santander’s 11th home run of the season, leading off the fourth against Domingo German, cut the lead to 4-1.
Aaron Judge’s two-run double ended Means’ night.
“I just thought tonight he never got in a rhythm,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Was off tonight, just didn’t have command of really any of his pitches. The breaking balls weren’t real sharp, was up a lot in the strike zone and just wasn’t his night tonight.”
Hyde insisted that he wasn’t worried about Means’ health.
“I think he feels fine,” Hyde said. “I just think he’s having a hard time commanding the ball right now. You see a lot of just misses up in the zone. Probably a little bit mechanical. But he’s just missing up in the zone way too much and behind in the count a little bit. Having a tough time putting guys away.”
At the All-Star break, Means had a 2.50 ERA. It’s risen to 3.76. Hyde doesn’t believe teams have adjusted to the left-hander.
“No, I think tonight it was definitely noticeable stuff-wise was not the same and command was not the same,” Hyde said. “Had a hard time commanding the ball.”
After Miguel Castro came into the game, Gio Urshela drove in a run with a single, and Gary Sanchez’s double put New York ahead 7-1.
Stevie Wilkerson ran back and made a leaping catch on Didi Gregorius’ drive to center, ending the third and saving at least two more runs. Wilkerson’s 10th homer with one out made him the seventh Oriole to hit at least 10 home runs this season.
Chandler Shepherd, who was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk for the game, allowed a run in the fifth on Mike Tauchman’s RBI double. He worked four innings, giving up just that run and five hits, enabling Hyde to save his bullpen.
“He picked us up,” Hyde said. “That was an awesome performance. Four innings for us. Now we have a lot of guys available tomorrow. Liked the way he threw strikes. I thought he had some nice curveballs, with the fastball-cutter mix and attacked their hitters and got outs for us. Got 12 big outs.”
Shepherd is the 53rd player used by the Orioles this season, three away from their franchise record set last year.
Domingo German gave up two runs on five hits in seven innings to run his record to 16-2.
Renato Nunez hit his 26th home run against rookie Adonis Rosa, making his major league debut, with one out in the ninth. Nunez had not had a hit in his previous 14 at-bats.
“I think the difference was the ball just went out of the park,” Nunez said. “I feel like I’ve been putting some good swings on the ball and I kept hitting it to some guys in the field. I’ve just got to clear my mind and keep swinging. Hopefully, those hits are going to come.”
The Orioles’ record is 39-81, and they’re 2-16 against the Yankees. Dylan Bundy faces J.A. Happ on Wednesday afternoon in the final meeting of the teams in 2019.
Means’ teammates are struggling against the Yankees, and it’s no surprise he is, too.
““They’re a tough lineup,” Means said. “There’s a reason why they’re top in the league. They’re World Series contenders. They’ve got a lot of tough bats. There’s no easy outs. At the same time, you’ve just got to go at them. When you don’t have command like I didn’t have tonight, it’s tough to get through.”
Means was a feel-good story of the season’s first half, but the second half hasn’t been easy.
“I feel like I’m handling it well,” Means said. “This is the way you learn. You learn from failure, not having success. I’m going to grow even more from this.”