Means allows one hit in six innings; Orioles lose to Blue Jays, 5-2, with one game left; Elias on infielders, Stewart - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Means allows one hit in six innings; Orioles lose to Blue Jays, 5-2, with one game left; Elias on infielders, Stewart

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

Oriole starter John Means ended the 2020 season with a loss. However, he could hardly have pitched any better. Only a two-out, sixth-inning home run by Cavan Biggio spoiled Means’ night.

Means had arm fatigue to begin the season and then lost his father to pancreatic cancer on August 7th. His fastball command was missing for a while, but he has been dominant since he regained it.

Biggio’s homer was the only hit Means allowed in six innings in the Orioles’ 5-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays in Buffalo on Saturday night. The Orioles play their final game of the shortened 2020 season on Sunday.

Means walked his second batter, Jonathan Villar, then retired 16 straight until Biggio’s home run. He struck out nine.

In his last four starts, Means pitched 23 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on 12 hits and lowered his ERA from 8.10 to 4.53. In his last two starts, he struck out 21.

“I wish there was 100 games left,” Means said. “It’s been a nice breath of fresh air the last four starts.”

Means’ ability to overcome adversity and finish strong has been impressive.

“I think it was one big learning experience,” Means said. “I experienced a lot of things this season that are pretty tough, and to get through that, and to try to find myself again was a struggle.

“I think it’s going to help me a lot coming into this next season, and the season after that. I was horrible for so long, and to come out of that, and have some success, it’s been huge.”

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Manager Brandon Hyde called Means’ performance “an incredible way to end the year. I don’t know if he can pitch much better than he did his last three starts. He’s pitching like a top-of-the rotation guy.”

Hunter Harvey relieved Means in the seventh and gave up a three-run home run to Randal Grichuk, who has 19 home runs and 44 RBIs in 39 games against the Orioles. This year, Grichuk has seven homers and 19 RBIs in nine games against the Orioles. He has 12 home runs overall.

The Orioles scored two runs in the eighth on an RBI double by José Iglesias and a run-scoring single by Ryan Mountcastle, who was tagged out trying for second.

Austin Hays had three hits, and Iglesias had two.

“It’s been unbelievable,” Hays said of Means’ command. “It seems like every single hitter that steps in the box is 0-1, and he’s getting a ton of swings and misses. When he does throw pitches out of the zone, it seems like he gets a ton of chases. This is as dominant as I’ve seen a pitcher these last two starts for him.”

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. scored a run in the eighth when catcher Pedro Severino was charged with an error when he couldn’t hold on to Tanner Scott’s throw home.

The Orioles’ record is 24-35. Keegan Akin will face Tanner Roark in the final game that will begin at 3:07 p.m.

Elias on infield depth: In his video conference call on Saturday, executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said that adding to the Orioles’ stock of infielders will remain a priority.

“I think it continues to be. I think infielders are hard to come by,” Elias said. “When I first joined the Orioles at the end of 2018, I looked at what we had, it did seem like there was a deficit of infielders, but a large number of quality outfielders.

“I think that deficit of infielders was mainly owing to the lack of an international pipeline because that’s where a lot of major league infielders are coming from these days.

“We have tried to attack it at the major league level through free agency and the waiver wire. We’ve got some guys we like that are with the team now. We’ve tried to attack it through the last couple of drafts and also a couple of trades. We’ve gotten the international free-agent spigot flowing now. Hopefully, long-term, that will fortify our infield depth, but it’s like pitching. It’s one of those areas where everyone is always looking for more.”

Elias on minor leagues: The Orioles are trying to find a way to get their minor leaguers, particularly ones who weren’t part of the Bowie alternate site, some competition. Perhaps they’ll be able gather in Sarasota, Florida sometime soon.

“I don’t have anything to announce, but Instructional League is certainly something that a lot of teams are advancing and it’s on our wish list,” Elias said.

“We’re really careful in this environment when we’re planning something like that and until we’ve really got a plan that we’re ready to talk about, we won’t, but I’m hopeful to get more of a player development experience in the 2020 calendar year, especially for some of the guys who weren’t able to go to Bowie.”

Elias on DJ Stewart: DJ Stewart continues to struggle. He was hitless in four at-bats Saturday, and is 2-for-24. His average has slid to .190.

Elias says Stewart, who also has struggled on defense, can do better.

“I was glad that after [Anthony] Santander’s injury that we were able to give DJ an extended run,” Elias said. “I think we learned a lot about what he needs to work on. Brandon and I just talked to him at length. There’s a lot of things that we saw this season that we were excited about it, and we have a clear plan for him this offseason in some areas of work. DJ Stewart’s a first-round pick, and we saw his ability this year in flashes. We want to see that not in flashes next year.”

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Rob IsraOsFan

    September 27, 2020 at 7:19 am

    Rich, thanks for another great piece…one more post game write-up to go this season 🙂

    I recently conveyed my confusion why Hyde doesn’t instruct to pitch around Grichuk. Any thoughts why not? Is this practice simply no longer “politically correct”? When I see a blazing fire, I turn and go the other way…

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 27, 2020 at 7:48 am

      Thanks for your kind words, Rob.

      My guess is he wanted to see how Harvey, who should be a top-shelf reliever would do against Grichuk, whom I don’t believe he had faced. There were runners on first and second with one out, and an intentional walk loads the bases for Travis Shaw, another hitter who’s done well against the Orioles.

      I had no problem with that move because you want to see how Harvey handles a tough situation.

    • CalsPals

      September 27, 2020 at 8:33 am

      Harvey had a great chance to impress last night, I’m not a scout, but I’ve always heard announcers say the fastball is the easiest pitch to hit, Grichuk surely thinks so, if there was a glut of OFers here when Elias got here, why keep picking them, again, Jays got a good one we could’ve had, hope he doesn’t come back to haunt us, agree with Boog, if Elias really has control BEFORE spring training CD is gone, will be interesting off season, with our catchers play this yr can’t wait to see Adley next yr…lol…go O’s…

      • Orial

        September 27, 2020 at 8:45 am

        Excellent point about about Elias picking OFers. Why?

    • Rob IsraOsFan

      September 27, 2020 at 8:37 am

      Thanks Rich, makes sense.

      The Jays will enjoy his services for another three years, so there will be plenty of additional opportunities for Hyde to reconsider.

      Wishing you a G’mar chatima tova. To all those fasting, have an easy one.

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 27, 2020 at 8:54 am

      Ray and Orial, as I’ve written before, the Orioles have chosen lots of middle infielders and center fielders because those are usually the best athletes. If they can play short, they can often play second or third. If they can play center, they can play left or right.

      And, looking down the road, teams are often looking for those positions, so it makes trading easier when you’re looking for something specific.

      Just because it looks like a team has some good outfielders now, no one knows what the situation will be in three-to-five years when these prospects may be ready.

      Please, please stop thinking of the MLB draft like the NFL draft. Players are drafted for the long term, not to fit an immediate need and expected to produce now.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        September 27, 2020 at 10:21 am

        Best player available. Agreed.

    • CalsPals

      September 27, 2020 at 1:36 pm

      Won’t see me arguing against best player available, but they didn’t do that in this last draft…go O’s…

  2. Bhoffman1

    September 27, 2020 at 7:27 am

    If his whole career so far has been flashes and his fielding has always been sub par how do you fix that in six months. Elias didn’t address our catching problem until AR is ready. Severino has been terrible offensively and defensively the last few weeks. There’s no confidence in Sisco he hardly plays two days in a row and never against lefties plus he strikes out way to much. I don’t want to believe Davis will be in this team next year. It goes against everything Elias says he is trying to accomplish. Maybe they are trying to goat him into retirement because how much more can Davis go thru the motions when it’s obvious to the world he can’t perform anymore

  3. Orial

    September 27, 2020 at 8:43 am

    Still shocked at myself for picking Severino as the team’s MVP 3 weeks ago. The guy’s been awful. Shame on me. Agree about Sisco and a lack of confidence(he wears it on his sleeve). But his catching has improved. Perhaps cut ties with Severino(sad to say) and bring in a veteran(Cervelli) in to complement Sisco and wait on Rutschman? That hole at 2B. Alberto arbitration eligible and we all know how that worked out with Villar. No worries with Davis if he were to come back–he’ll be on the IL for 120 of next year’s 162 games. Very curious to see how Akin fares today. A solid finish could work wonders.

  4. musicmanjr

    September 27, 2020 at 8:51 am

    Hyde continues to make boneheaded pitching decisions. There’s no need to see what Harvey could do against Randal Grichuk. Pitch around the guy and give the O’s a chance to win. Means pitched his heart out and the game was still winnable.
    Then Hyde brings in Harvey. And I use to think that Showalter was too analytical. Guess I didn’t realize how smart Buck was at handling the pitching staff.

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 27, 2020 at 8:59 am

      Buck had Brad Brach, Mychal Givens, Darren O’Day and Zack Britton, musicman.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        September 27, 2020 at 10:29 am

        The talent certainly helped Rich, but regardless of it, I believe you know that Buck knew how to handle a pitching staff. Were not he & Duquette trailblazers in the practice of shuffling pitchers to and from AAA with regularity (the Norfolk shuffle) which many clubs now employ?

        That being said, I do remember his use of Ubaldo in the 11th inning of … wait stop … I can’t … it’s too painful to go there.

  5. Baltimore Castaway

    September 27, 2020 at 9:39 am

    The 2013 MLB Amateur Draft was a lukewarm draft if there ever was one.

    Hunter Harvey is one of the Leading Examples of this—the guy is a bum. He was drafted as a top-of-the-rotation Starter by Dan Duquette…what a wasted draft pick. He is one of these entitled, little-rich-kids. He’s Kevin Gausman with a slightly better personality and a bad mullet… He decided that he no longer wanted to be a Starter because he didn’t want to put the work in to become better…. Surprised this isn’t more front-of-mind for the Orioles faithful…

    • CalsPals

      September 27, 2020 at 9:46 am

      Agree in parts, his genealogy says closer, like daddy, think that was always the silent plan…go O’s….

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 27, 2020 at 10:33 am

      Castaway, 11 players taken in that draft became major leaguers, which is outstanding.

      However, only Harvey, Sisco, Wynns and Mancini are currently on the team now. Mancini was the eighth-round pick, and he’s a star, so that elevates the class much higher than lukewarm.

      Other major leaguers from the draft were Stephen Tarpley, Jonah Heim, Donnie Hart, Jimmy Yacabonis, Stefan Crichton, Mike Yastrzemski and Stephen Brault.

      If you produced 11 major leaguers in each years draft, you’d be doing brilliantly.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        September 27, 2020 at 10:37 am

        Spot on Rich but evidently it wasn’t brilliantly enough for Duquette to keep his job.

        • Phil770

          September 27, 2020 at 2:49 pm

          BRR, please note that Mancini elevated that draft to lukewarm. DD was okay. He wasn’t retained because of the drama he contributed to when he actively campaigned to go to work for the Blue Jays. Then Buck added to the drama and lost the team when he failed to use Britton in the Play-in Game, made worse by who he did use.

        • Birdman

          September 27, 2020 at 3:49 pm

          DD didn’t help his case by spending over $100 million on Ubaldo and Cobb.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      September 27, 2020 at 10:33 am

      Not sure I agree (or disagree) with everything you just said BC, but DAMN, I admire the virulent tenacity of the attack! Well said, and keep it coming bra! Good stuff for the site.

    • Bancells Moustache

      September 27, 2020 at 11:51 am

      Tells us how you really feel. I think you are being a little unfair to Harvey. He’s been in the Organization forever, yes, but his actual experience has been extremely limited at the big league level. And since Grichuk is the greatest player of all time when he plays the Orioles, it’s no shame to give up a home run to him.

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