Means' tough sixth inning leads to eighth straight Orioles' loss; Rutschman's first homer; Shorebirds keep winning - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Means’ tough sixth inning leads to eighth straight Orioles’ loss; Rutschman’s first homer; Shorebirds keep winning

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

BALTIMORE—John Means looked terrific for five innings. Means, who hadn’t gotten through four innings in his previous three starts, didn’t allow a hit through five to the Kansas City Royals.

In the sixth, Means and the Orioles came apart and suffered their eighth straight defeat, 5-4, on Monday night. They’ve lost 13 of 14.

DJ Stewart’s RBI double gave the Orioles a 1-0 led in the first against Jose Lopez, but that slim lead was quickly gone in the sixth.

Means faced six batters, retiring none. Nicky Lopez led off with a single, and Jonathan Villar made a neat stop of Nick Dini’s grounder through the middle. He threw the ball to second baseman Hanser Alberto for a possible double play, but  Alberto dropped it for an error.  Lopez took third and scored on Whit Merrifield’s RBI single.

Alex Gordon singled to right, loading the bases, and Hunter Dozier’s drive to left, which Jace Peterson couldn’t catch with a dive, scored Dini and Merrifield, and the Orioles were behind, 3-1.

“He didn’t give up a hit through five, just really throwing the ball well,” manager Brandon Hyde said.

“Throwing the ball well in the sixth, too, just a couple of well-placed singles, an error in the middle that really hurt. Unfortunately, he was throwing the ball great and things kind of unraveled for us again in that sixth inning.”

The Orioles also unraveled in the sixth on Sunday against the Boston Red Sox.

After Jorge Soler walked to load the bases, Gabriel Ynoa replaced Means and retired all three batters he faced to end the inning.

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Even though Means lost the game, he felt better about this start. He’s lost four straight starts.

“I’ve been working on a lot of stuff between outings and trying to figure out what works best for me, and I thought the first five innings I was doing exactly what I was working on,” he said.

“My pitches were doing what they were supposed to. I was locating how I was supposed to, and then the sixth I felt like I was starting to trend back to what I was doing wrong. It’s just a little mechanical adjustment that I’m looking forward to making next outing.”

Means didn’t think it was misfortune that caused the issues in the sixth.

“Luck doesn’t happen if you strike people out,” Means said. “… If I was locating where I wanted to, I could have gotten through it.

“It’s one of those things I thought I did a really good job the first half of the year. I was good at limiting the runners from scoring. I just haven’t been able to do that, and I think it’s a little mechanical flaw right now.”

Means threw so well through the first five, he looked as though he would give Hyde a rare long outing.

“Well, you’re hoping, but it’s baseball and anything can happen,” Hyde said. “Yeah, he was cruising right along through five innings and a little slap single down the left-field line to break up the no-hitter in the sixth, and we don’t make a play in the middle that we need to make. That really changed the whole inning.”

Villar led off the bottom of the sixth with a homer, and the Orioles trailed, 3-2. The Orioles had runners at first and second, but Stevie Wilkerson hit into an odd double play in which both Trey Mancini (forceout) and Renato Nunez (rundown) were retired at third base, ending the inning.

Lopez and Dini each homered against Ynoa to begin the seventh, and the Orioles trailed, 5-2.

Stewart’s RBI single made it 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh. The Orioles loaded the bases with two outs, but Anthony Santander flied out to short center, ending the inning.

Rio Ruiz homered with two outs in the ninth against Ian Kennedy. Villar reached on an infield single, and Mancini lined to center to end it.

Rutschman’s first Maryland home run: Adley Rutschman had a huge night, going 5-for-5 and hitting his first home run for the Aberdeen IronBirds.

Rutschman’s heroics led the IronBirds to a 6-2 win over the Vermont Lake Monsters at Ripken Stadium.

Rutschman’s home run was a long shot in the sixth inning.

“It was really nice, got a fastball to hit and didn’t miss it, which is  always a good feeling to be on time and feel your swing,” Rutschman told BaltimoreBaseball.com’s Justin Fitzgerald.

“They actually gave me the ball after the game. I don’t know how they found it. I just gave it to a fan after the game.”

Rutschman was the DH, had three singles, four RBIs and tried to stretch a triple into an inside-the-park home run. He is hitting .325.

“Hitting’s a lot of rhythm, so just making sure my swing’s feeling good, my timing’s right and just continuing to work on my process.”

Shorebirds looking ahead: The Delmarva Shorebirds, who are one win away from a franchise record, sent three of the their top players to meet some of the Orioles on an off-day.

Pitchers Grayson Rodriguez and Drew Rom and infielder Adam Hall were on hand for the game. All three have been with Delmarva throughout the season.

The Shorebirds, who will begin the South Atlantic League playoffs after their regular season concludes on September 2, have won 83 games, matching the 1996 team.

“It’s been amazing for our core guys to still be with us and have the talent that we have,” Rom said.

Hall is confident that Delmarva can always win.

“Pretty much our game has been winning,” Hall said. “I feel this way, and I’m pretty sure that most of the guys on the team feel the same way, any situation that we’ve been in, we haven’t felt like we would lose a game.”

Rodriguez enjoyed one aspect of his visit the most.

“Earlier, we got to sit in the pitchers’ meeting, and that was really special,” Rodriguez said. “

Rodriguez was impressed by the questions the pitchers asked about facing the Royals.

More minor matters: The Orioles released right-handed pitchers Josh Lucas and Matt Wotherspoon, who were at Triple-A Norfolk. Lucas pitched in nine games with the Orioles and had a 5.74 ERA in nine appearances. Wotherspoon had a 15.43 ERA in two appearances.

Austin Wynns was on the Orioles’ taxi squad in case Chance Sisco was not cleared to play after getting hurt on Sunday. Wynns will return to the Tides.

Baysox right-hander Michael Baumann was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Week.

Jackson dies: Al Jackson, who played 10 seasons in the major leagues, and was the Orioles’ pitching coach from 1989-91, died at 83.

Jackson’s contributions to the growth of the Orioles’ pitchers during their 1989 “Why Not?” season were mentioned by pitchers who came to Baltimore for the team’s 30th reunion on August 9.

He pitched 10 seasons in the majors and was best known as one of the starters on the first New York Mets team in 1962. Jackson was a 20-game loser for the Mets in 1962 and 1965.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Fareastern89

    August 20, 2019 at 7:23 am

    Despite all the unfortunate lapses in the field and on the basepaths, this season has perhaps provided a few useful pieces — at least in the short term — for the O’s moving forward: a fourth outfielder (at least) in Santander, a back-up catcher in Severino, a utility guy in Martin, maybe a DH in Nunez, and a back-end starter in Means. (We already knew Mancini was a keeper.) I guess that’s not a whole lot, but even a little clarity helps as the team sorts through its inventory.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      August 20, 2019 at 8:00 am

      I’m hoping Martin is more than a utility guy. There’s too much potential there. And as far as Means being a back end starter? I think that may be wishful thinking.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 20, 2019 at 8:11 am

      Fareastern, I think you can add Hunter Harvey to the list.

      • Fareastern89

        August 20, 2019 at 9:01 am

        Well, I hope so. Just wanted to wait until we saw more appearances out of the pen.

    • Bancells Moustache

      August 20, 2019 at 10:13 am

      I’m not sure what games you are watching. Martin doesn’t look like a utility guy to me, more like a Frederick Key until Gunnar Henderson hits town.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        August 20, 2019 at 3:19 pm

        If he can learn to hit, he’s a keeper. Speed & defense can’t be taught. Hitting can.

  2. Orial

    August 20, 2019 at 8:02 am

    I think I said it last year at this time but don’t think anyone heard me SO I’ll say it again—“please improve the defense next year”

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      August 20, 2019 at 8:13 am

      Defense if overrated in today’s game. It’s all about strikeouts and launch angle. The ball simply isn’t put into play like it used to be.
      (said tongue in cheek)

      • Orial

        August 20, 2019 at 10:56 am

        Ok I’ll rephrase it then–improve the fundamental and “intelligent” approach in 2020. OFers too deep,IFers clueless as to what to do. Hmm this couldn’t be coaching could it?

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          August 20, 2019 at 1:31 pm

          Well on a positive note, at least they improved the base running. (and it all started with that dope Machado’s departure)

    • CalsPals

      August 20, 2019 at 1:16 pm

      Baseball IQ strikes again…go O’s…

  3. Boog Robinson Robinson

    August 20, 2019 at 8:10 am

    “Luck doesn’t happen if you strike people out,” Means said.

    That may sum up just why the modern day pitcher seems to have a problem getting past 5 or 6 innings. To try and strike out everybody you face is going to drive up your pitch count, not to mention the added velocity adds to wear and tear of the arm sooner.

    Given the band box sized stadiums, ridiculously small strike zones and the juiced ball, I’m not sure there is a better strategy in today’s game, but didn’t someone once say that ground balls were more democratic?

    My hero, Jim Palmer, often talks of pitching to contact. It’s such a shame that that’s a bygone approach to the game.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 20, 2019 at 8:21 am

      Boog, with Means’ changeup, he should get plenty of ground balls.

      One of the reasons pitch counts are up is that hitters are good enough to make them higher.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        August 20, 2019 at 10:22 am

        But it was Means himself lamenting that fact that he didn’t strike out enough players … not me. Obviously he’s trying to.

  4. DevoTion

    August 20, 2019 at 10:10 am

    So I checked the box score last night and I saw that Means hadn’t allowed a hit through the first 5, and although I wasn’t expecting him to throw a no-no, I thought it might be a good game to watch. I turned it on at the beginning of the 7th, the first 2 pitches by Ynoa bye bye. I admit I don’t watch often, although I always check the box score, I watched about 10 minutes and that’s all I could handle. This team is unwatchable. I expected it to be bad this year, but I never expected the amount of home runs we would give up. There’s still 4-5 weeks left in the season and the home runs givin up is about to be broken and destroyed by the end of the season. That’s not a record to be proud of. I know that homers are up across the league, but it’s not this bad for every team is it?

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 20, 2019 at 10:22 am

      Devo, the Orioles have allowed 255 homers, 42 more than Seattle, which is second. A large number of teams may exceed the previous record.

      • DevoTion

        August 20, 2019 at 11:19 am

        That’s really bad. I know MLB is supposedly testing the balls, but it’s has to be more than just the balls being juiced. Feels like someone is hiding something or looking the other way when it comes to the amount of HRs being hit. Just saying!

      • Orial

        August 20, 2019 at 3:58 pm

        That’s a good point Rich(O’s not only team that will break the record). A testament to what’s really going on in today’s game.

  5. willmiranda

    August 20, 2019 at 10:29 am

    I know it’s flagrant, but John is regressing to the Means. Had to chuckle about Rodriguez’s being impressed by the questions asked by the pitchers about the KC hitters. Maybe the questions were good, but the answers didn’t seem to be there. “What do I do if someone hits a homer?” “Throw another one.” Lots written about the sixth inning breakdown, but the O’s were still in the game and had opportunities to win against a team that is on their own competitive level.
    Thanks for the Al Jackson tribute. Deserves a good memory.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 20, 2019 at 10:32 am

      Al Jackson was a very nice man, Will. I watched him pitch for the Mets when I was a little boy.

    • Ekim

      August 20, 2019 at 1:23 pm

      Rich… me too. As a Dodger fan starting in ‘47, loosing them (& the hated Giants as well), just getting a team to root for was a “winner”, regardless of now they played. Very few fans were truly critical of how they played, win or, as we certainly know, lose. But this situation is totally different” The O’s don’t have a bunch of loveable losers to either laugh at or with. It’s a sad situation and at my age I don’t have another generation to wait for “real baseball” to surface again. Just saying…

  6. ButchBird59

    August 20, 2019 at 11:10 am

    The good news on the mound for next season is the likes of Lowther, Wells, Baumann, Zimmermann, Kremer, Sedlock, Harvey, and Tate should at least be in Norfolk so that unlike this season, the Baltimore/Norfolk shuffle should have some legit talent.

    The other day, I forgot to mention Gunnar Henderson is .333 in his last 10 games in the GCL. A note on Gunnar: At the 60th anniversary of Apollo 11 and Woodstock in 2019, Gunnar Henderson will be a 28 year old infielder with the Orioles. I, on the other hand, will be a 70 year old geezer in a rocking chair dribbling oatmeal down my chin with my Eagle lunar module model hanging from the ceiling, my Grace Slick poster hanging on the wall, and my tattered Amazing Mets photo laden with dart holes framed on the mantelpiece.

    • CalsPals

      August 20, 2019 at 1:18 pm

      Character at play, Adleys first professional HR, retrieved for him & he gives it to a fan…awesome…go O’s…

    • Ekim

      August 20, 2019 at 1:24 pm

      Butch… I hope you read my comment right above…

      • ButchBird59

        August 20, 2019 at 9:00 pm

        I feel your very real pain. 🙂

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