Means strikes out 12 in Orioles' 2-1 win; Home season ends; Orioles complete Castro deal - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Means strikes out 12 in Orioles’ 2-1 win; Home season ends; Orioles complete Castro deal

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

BALTIMORE—Before Sunday, John Means had never struck out more than seven batters in a game. He did it by the fourth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Means, whose season had started with arm fatigue and the death of his father, has been outstanding in his last three starts.

On Sunday, he struck out 12 in 5 2/3 innings to lead the Orioles to a 2-1 victory over the Rays in the final home game of the 2020 season.

Tampa Bay won the first four games of the five-game series, even though Oriole starters had pitched well. The difference was on offense, where the Orioles had scored one run in seven of their previous 10 games.

On Sunday, they doubled that, and it was enough.

They scored the two runs in the first inning, and it held up behind Means’ overpowering start and solid relief pitching.  The Orioles are 23-31 with six games left. They are 1-20 when scoring three runs or fewer.

Means is 2-3 with 5.02 ERA. In his last three starts against the Mets, Yankees and Rays, he’s allowed three runs on 11 hits in 17 2/3 innings.

“I’m glad that I kind of found my way again,” Means said in a video conference call. “I have one start left. I wish there was 100 games left, but that’s not the case this year. I’m going to take that into next year and [aim for] the playoffs, and just keep going, just kind of be me. I think I got away from myself.”

After Manuel Margot reached on an error and was picked off, Means hit Randy Arozarena with a pitch, then struck out seven straight, tying the club record set by Sammy Stewart in his major league debut on September 1, 1978.

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Keegan Akin struck out six straight on Wednesday against Atlanta.

Means struck out Yoshi Tsutsugo three times. His fourth-inning strikeout was his eighth, setting a career high, then had a 13-pitch at-bat against Kevan Smith before striking him out. Willy Adames hit his seventh home run of the year, cutting the Orioles’ lead to 2-1 before Means struck out Nate Lowe, his 10th.

“I knew I was getting the swings and misses,” Means said. “I had the fastball going today. Sometimes you have it, sometimes you don’t. I had my good fastball that was riding pretty well. I didn’t know it was that many, but I had an idea.”

In the fifth, Matt Zunino struck out. After Means hit Arozarena again, Tsutsugo struck out and Smith popped to second before manager Brandon Hyde called for Dillon Tate.

“When he’s got the other pitches going, he’s got the good changeup and two different breaking balls, he’s going to punch more people out,” Hyde said. “Because they can’t sit on the elevated fastball or the changeup.”

Tate struck out two in an inning, and Hunter Harvey retired all four batters he faced, striking out two.

The Orioles struck out 16 Rays, one short of the club record.

César Valdez threw eight pitches in the ninth to record his second save.

Means allowed a run on three hits with the 12 strikeouts, throwing 97 pitches.

He’ll get his final start next weekend against the Toronto Blue Jays.

“You never want to have a whole year that you can’t figure it out,” Means said. “Being able to come into my own and just calm down a little bit and pitch well is definitely going to help me going into my offseason.”

The Orioles scored their two runs in the first against Ryan Yarbrough. Hanser Alberto singled. Austin Hays singled and took second on the throw to third. After Ryan Mountcastle grounded to short with the infield in, Renato Núñez blooped a single to short left-center to score Alberto and Hays.

Núñez was the designated hitter, and he appreciated how Means dominated Tampa Bay’s hitters.

“He was amazing, man,” Núñez said. “How he was throwing today. He was something else. I don’t know how many strikeouts he had, 12 or 13? That’s a lot, man.”

Yarbrough allowed two runs on five hits in seven-plus innings.

Castro trade complete: The Orioles received shortstop Victor González from the New York Mets as the player to be named later in the trade for relief pitcher Miguel Castro.

The 17-year-old from the Dominican Republic has yet to play professionally. Earlier, the Mets sent left-handed pitcher Kevin Smith to the Orioles.

González has been added to the 60-man player pool. Right-handed pitcher Chandler Shepherd has been released.

On Friday, the Orioles received shortstop Isaac De León as the player to be named later from Miami in the trade for reliever Richard Bleier, and outfielder Mishael Deson from Colorado in the deal for reliever Mychal Givens.

Because the regular season is ending in a week, De León, Deson and Gonzalez won’t be reporting to the alternate site in Bowie.

The Orioles will receive two players to be named later from Atlanta for starter Tommy Milone and one from Houston for pitcher Hector Velázquez.

Baltimore acquired right-handed pitcher Conner Loeprich from the Pittsburgh Pirates for international signing bonus slots. The 23-year-old right-hander was 6-8 with a 3.68 ERA in 55 minor league games in 2018 and 2019.

Outfielder Mason Williams has been released and right-handed pitcher Asher Wojciechowski cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk.

The Orioles’ 60-man player pool is full, and the 40-man roster has 39 players.

Mancini at first?: With the surplus of young outfielders, it’s natural to think that Trey Mancini could play first base next season. He has missed this season after surgery for colon cancer.

“I think that’s something we’re going to talk about this winter,” Hyde said. “We’ll go into spring training with a plan. I don’t think we’ve even gotten there …”

Mountcastle relaxed on defense: Mountcastle started the game in left field and moved to first base in the seventh. He’s become adept in left and at first.

“I’ve been feeling pretty good. I’ve been putting a lot of extra work in at both positions,” Mountcastle said. “I feel pretty comfortable at both.”

Coming up: Keegan Akin, Dean Kremer and Alex Cobb are the Orioles’ scheduled starters for their three-game series with the Boston Red Sox that begins Tuesday at Fenway Park. Boston has Nathan Eovaldi pitching Wednesday, but hasn’t named its starters for Tuesday and Thursday.

Odds and ends: José Iglesias, who left Saturday’s game after he was hit by a pitch in the eighth inning and was diagnosed with a bruised left wrist had X-rays and a CT-scan. “All his tests came out negative,” Hyde said. “He’s just sore, and we’re hoping he can play in a few days. He’s still day-to-day. The wrist’s still sore, and we’ll see how he is after the offday.” … Sunday’s game was played in two hours, 31 minutes, the shortest nine-inning game of the season … The Orioles have their final offday on Monday and finish the season with three in Boston and three against Toronto in Buffalo …The Orioles are scheduled to begin the 2021 season on April 1 in Boston. Their home opener is April 8 against the Red Sox.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

 

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. CalsPals

    September 20, 2020 at 5:11 pm

    Feel bad for Mason Williams, really wished they would have released him earlier, would’ve been a classy move, I always chuckle when a manager/coach says their player is”day to day”, like all of us…lol…go O’s…

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      September 20, 2020 at 5:24 pm

      Mason has had his cup of coffee. Not bad deal. What would you and I have done for that time in the sun?

    • ClayDal

      September 20, 2020 at 5:27 pm

      Just to be clear on Mason Williams. He was designated for assignment September 1. Cleared waivers and was outrighted. He had the option at that time to reject the outright and become a free agent. He chose to stay here. Same as when he was designated on September 11th. So Williams could have left earlier if he wanted to. Now that he’s a free agent don’t be shocked if in November he signs a minor league contract with-the Baltimore Orioles

    • Earl Weevir

      September 20, 2020 at 5:49 pm

      I noticed Mason lost a lot of weight and looks a lot thinner this season,
      than 2019? Maybe he’s eating and training more seriously and committed?

    • CalsPals

      September 20, 2020 at 6:15 pm

      Maybe DJ was stealing his food…lol…go O’s…

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        September 20, 2020 at 7:31 pm

        🙂

    • CalsPals

      September 20, 2020 at 6:52 pm

      I would have paid them to be up there…lol…go O’s…

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    September 20, 2020 at 5:19 pm

    I’d like to personally apologize to Mr. Means for suggesting earlier this year, that last year may have been an anomaly. Looks like striking out the opposition has become more contagious than the Covid! (of course, playing the Rays doesn’t hurt in that regard)

    So …. more young Dominicans. And a shortstop to boot. No more cabana boy jokes from me. We might have just found the next Julio Franco!

    It’s really going to be interesting to follow the minor league teams next year. Not that I’ll be forsaking the big club of course, but MAN there seems to be a lot of possibilities down there. Duquette’s boys are all coming of age, and it looks like the holes are being filled quite capably.

    Go Cowboys!! A comeback for the ages today!!!

    • Earl Weevir

      September 20, 2020 at 5:53 pm

      Pitcher J. Means just needed a couple workouts, to stretch his legs, and a few times around the track, kind of just like a thoroughbred racehorse!
      “ and he is a thoroughbred – make no doubts “

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        September 21, 2020 at 4:30 pm

        Max Scherzer is a thoroughbred. Klayton Kershaw … Justin Verlander are thoroughbreds.

        Means is the best of a bad staff.

        My how our standards have bottomed out in Charm City.

    • CalsPals

      September 20, 2020 at 6:16 pm

      Get ready for the comments…go O’s…

  3. Bancells Moustache

    September 20, 2020 at 6:25 pm

    What to make of Mr. Means. Guy goes from looking like a journeyman to looking like Warren Spahn today. I just hope he picks one (preferably the latter) because I’m done with the Bundy/Gausman/Jimenez/Arrieta “maybe unhittable and maybe awful” shenanigans.

    Also, not to be a buzzkill, but while we’ve all been hugging and kissing about how much better this team is than we thought they would be, Boston is not too far away from passing them and putting them back in the cellar. That can’t happen.

    • CalsPals

      September 20, 2020 at 6:54 pm

      Agree all the way around, especially getting passed by the Red Sucks, hate them almost as much as the Yankees…go O’s…

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      September 20, 2020 at 7:36 pm

      If the Sox pass us in the standings, I’ll be first in line calling for Elias’ head!

  4. OriolesNumber1Fan

    September 20, 2020 at 6:54 pm

    First off, I like to give some props to someone on this site for an apology! John Means was money today and has been a lot better for his last 3 starts and I’m glad for him. He seems to have found his rythm and his fastball command. Due to the start then stop and then start again for this crazy season, his tired arm and then the loss of his dad, he’s had a tough year. This is great for him, pitching a lot better, going into next year! And since the Orioles have 2 Dominican minor league teams, the jokes for getting players for those teams will finally stop as well. Well, maybe the Christmas season has started early this year! And since the “not for long” league was mentioned my Los Angeles Rams are cooking baby!!! And 1 further, my Los Angeles Lakers are looking good as well!

  5. willmiranda

    September 20, 2020 at 7:32 pm

    Congrats to Means for figuring out that pitchers are a lot more effective if they plunk a batter or two. It doesn’t have to look malicious, just a little careless. I don’t like it, but if everybody’s doing it, . . . .

  6. Ekim

    September 20, 2020 at 7:44 pm

    Great to see Means finally find himself. Now, with pitching trending to the plus side of the ledger it’s time to focus on the hitting… and I’m focused (again) on DJ. I’ve followed his career right from the time he was drafted and I’m sure some of you “regulars” here have seen some of my posts about him. There were a number of posts about him yesterday concerning his weight and fielding (or lack of) but no one bothered to mention his batting over the past week. In the seven games he’s batting .050 (1 for 20) with 9 strike outs and his average went from .265 to .203. For the week he’s trending towards towards “Crush” territory. At best he’s a triple A regular but he’s NOT a big league talent! With the plethora of outfield talent the O’s have (and also waiting in the wings) the smart thing to would be to trade him and get some more infield prospects (preferably that have a little “bat”… ) Just saying…

    • Bhoffman1

      September 20, 2020 at 8:40 pm

      The outfield next year is Mountcastle Hays and Santlander. Mullins will be the fourth outfielder. He’s not a starter I’ve said this from day one you need a bigger bat in CF. Diaz is waiting in the wings and could be the best of the lot. So really that leaves no place for DJ.

  7. Orial

    September 20, 2020 at 8:00 pm

    Great effort by Mr.Means and yes quite a pitching core we’re developing and that’s not including the “Monster” trifecta of Rodriguez,Hall,Baumann coming soon. I really feel bad for being such a “negative Gus” but 97 pitches in 5 2/3? I guess that’s what happens when you’re a strikeout pitcher.

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