Orioles' Means named AL Player of Week; Lowther down, Akin up; Stewart feels better - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Orioles’ Means named AL Player of Week; Lowther down, Akin up; Stewart feels better

John Means no-hitter
Photo credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

BALTIMORE—John Means’ no-hitter on May 5 against the Seattle Mariners earned him the American League’s Player of the Week award.

Means is the first Oriole pitcher to win the award since Arthur Rhodes in August 1994. He threw the Orioles’ first complete-game no-hitter since Jim Palmer on August 13, 1969. He’s attracted some attention.

“It’s been crazy,” Means said. “But it hasn’t really set in, still. I don’t think I’ll be able to look back on this until the offseason because I’m so locked in to this season and locked in to just getting ready every five days.”

Means will start on Tuesday night against the New York Mets’ Marcus Stroman at Citi Field.

“It’s cool. It really is, but I haven’t really experienced it yet,” Means said. “Mentally, emotionally, I’m just getting ready to pitch against the Mets tomorrow, maybe get a hit.”

Means was touched by the pregame ceremony honoring his achievement on Saturday night that featured a message from Palmer, who cited some of the franchise’s best starting left-handers — Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar, Mike Flanagan and Scott McGregor.

“It’s something that I didn’t really know was going to go on,” Means said. “I didn’t know that’s what came with this. Palmer’s video was pretty special to me.”

Only once in major league history has a pitcher thrown no-hitters in consecutive starts. Cincinnati’s Johnny Vander Meer recorded no-hitters on June 11 and 15, 1938.

“I was just happy that last start went well,” Means said. “It’s kind of what I strive for. I just try to have a good start every five days. I don’t look at it that it was some big milestone and that was the peak of my mountain. I try to stay as even-keel as possible, and I want to go out there and have another quality start and give my team a chance to win.”

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He’s enjoying sharing what he has learned with the young pitchers.

“It’s pretty cool to be able to talk to these guys, and lead them along the way,” Means said. “Go over experiences, not that I’m really teaching these guys anything new, but just to go over mentality and everything that comes with the big leagues that isn’t pitching.

“I think there’s a lot more than people think. I think a lot of pitching is just mentality. All these guys have the stuff to be there. It’s just sticking around.”

Lowther down, Akin up: The Orioles exchanged left-handers, returning Zac Lowther to Triple-A Norfolk and recalling Keegan Akin from the Tides.

Lowther, who allowed seven runs in 2 1/3 innings in his first major league start on Saturday night, had previously pitched a scoreless inning in his debut on April 25th.

Akin, who was 1-2 with a 4.56 ERA in eight games, six starts, in 2020, had a rough spring training and didn’t make the Orioles. He started for Norfolk against Jacksonville on Friday night and allowed two runs on two hits in two innings. He struck out five and walked one.

“Akin is available out of the bullpen tonight,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “That was the reason, to have a fresh arm in here with Friday and Saturday bullpen usage. We were short yesterday, and we were waiting for Akin today.

“Akin’s available in a long relief rule out of our bullpen. Just brings us a fresh arm, going forward this week.”

Hyde said that Akin could go long in relief.

“I think he just threw OK in that two-inning start,” Hyde said. “I hope that being in the big leagues ramps up the intensity. We saw what Akin can do last year. We saw him throw a couple of outings where he threw really, really well, aggressive with his pitches in the strike zone, and that’s something we worked on in spring training where he was hit-and-miss. Now that he’s here, he’s got to be aggressive in the zone.”

Hyde said Means can serve as a guide for Lowther.

“Absolutely, that’s a conversation I had with Zac Lowther today after we sent him down. We talked about Norfolk, talked about him going down. I said, ‘A great example is John Means.’

“The ability to locate your fastball to both sides of the plate, the ability to throw your fastball in and in/off to right-handed hitters, especially in this division, especially being a left-handed pitcher is key.

“I like Zac’s offspeed stuff. Now, Means has got the changeup and added a couple of weapons with two different breaking balls, but the ability to throw fastballs where you want to, and to be able to get in to right-handed hitters, especially in this division, is going to be key.

“J.A. Happ did it for a lot of years on different teams. You see [Boston’s] Eduardo Rodriguez. He’s got the cutter, the cutter to both sides that he’s got great command of. Being a left-hander in this division, Meansy is a great example of how to navigate through difficult lineups with that type of stuff.”

Injury update: DJ Stewart, who was removed for a pinch-runner on Sunday because of a strained left hamstring, isn’t as sore.

“Feeling better today,” Hyde said. “Soreness has gone down a little bit. He’s a possible off the bench. I’m going to try to stay away from him altogether.”

Norfolk outfielder Yusniel Diaz hurt his leg injury on Sunday, but Hyde didn’t provide details.

Odds and ends: Matt Harvey will face the Mets for the first time since he left them in 2018 on Wednesday afternoon. He’ll face Tajuan Walker. Hyde said that the most likely pitchers against the Yankees this weekend are Dean Kremer, Jorge López and Means.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. NormOs

    May 10, 2021 at 6:33 pm

    Genius1 sends Lowther down but will start Lopez tonight. I guess somewhere in this world that makes sense. I imagine that Ruiz and Urais will be in the lineup to complete the AAA portion. “Bring on the Red Sox”! BTW, with Lopez pitching the O’s will need a minimum of 9 runs to win.

    • Pure_Positive_PJs

      May 10, 2021 at 8:07 pm

      Hi! Sounds like you are having a bad day, hope your day gets better. Lopez has let up 3 ER in 8 2/3 innings in his last two starts before tonight’s game. Lowther probably can’t pitch tonight, so having Akin available out of the bull pen might not be a bad idea. Neither Ruiz or Urias were in the starting line up tonight!!! Mountcastle hit a HR, Severino is 2-2!!! All that should cheer you up considerably!

  2. Bhoffman1

    May 10, 2021 at 7:02 pm

    Has anyone noticed Gausman stats so far this year. As good as Means and he took a qualifying offer from the Giants.

    • Pure_Positive_PJs

      May 10, 2021 at 8:23 pm

      Gausman took a qualifying offer from the Giants, that offer was for $18.9 million dollars for the 2021 season. Not sure what Means salary is this season, but I believe it is significantly below $18.9 million dollars – SportsTrac shows Means 2021 salary to be $593,500 or 97% lower than Gausman’s salary. Means is 2 years younger than Gausman and is not eligible for free agency until after the 2024 season.

      Means ERA 2021 1.37, Gausman ERA 2021 1.97; Means ERA is 30% better.

      Since Gausman was traded in 2018:
      Means ERA 3.48, Gausman 3.97; Means ERA is 12% better.
      Means WHIP 1.03, Gausman 1.21; Means WHIP is 15% better.

      Orioles got four decent prospects in return for Gausman and O’Day. I say be happy about the Gausman trade and ecstatic Means is on the Orioles still! Keep it positive BHoff!

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        May 11, 2021 at 2:07 pm

        One more Note: Means pitches in the American League with a Designated Hitter where Gausman pitches in the National League where other pitchers hit! Big difference!!!

    • Bhoffman1

      May 10, 2021 at 9:20 pm

      I correct myself. 18.9 million certainly qualifies not to be a qualifying offer

  3. Pure_Positive_PJs

    May 10, 2021 at 8:26 pm

    I am amazed and pleased as punch Lopez went 5 innings so far and has only let up one run. I thought he wasn’t starter material, thought he was a 1-3 inning pitcher…It will be interesting to see if Lopez comes back out to pitch the 6th at only 64 pitches through 5 innings. O’s need to get him some runs in support!

    • dlgruber1

      May 10, 2021 at 8:47 pm

      Your last sentence hit the nail on the head. Lopez ERA not nearly an accurate indicator of how well he’s pitched, but they never score runs for him! Only deGrom must know how he feels. Don’t get me wrong, he’s no deGrom but he’s also much better than his ERA.

  4. Pure_Positive_PJs

    May 10, 2021 at 8:41 pm

    I vote to intentionally walk Devers…

    Would have intentionally walked Devers first before bringing in Scott. Hope they pitch around him, make him swing at something outside the strike zone. Devers has an 0.888 OPS vs. lefties, yikes!

    Phew! Great job Tanner Scott, five of six pitches outside the strike zone. Good night all!

    • dlgruber1

      May 10, 2021 at 8:52 pm

      Of course as soon as Lopez out of the game a bomb by Mancini! Right now I don’t care who gets the win so long as they just get A win. Bullpen will have their work cut out for them. Boston doesn’t give away ABs.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      May 10, 2021 at 10:37 pm

      THAT sir … is / was a good idea. I thought that Lopez was being removed too early, and the thought of walking Devers crossed my mind as well at the time.

  5. CalsPals

    May 10, 2021 at 8:56 pm

    Not sure I can take all the positive PJs BS…go O’s…

    • geevee3

      May 10, 2021 at 11:02 pm

      Actual stats and reasonable takes are BS?
      Go O’s!

      • Tileman

        May 11, 2021 at 8:16 am

        Agree and also note that Cals Pals act is getting old.

    • CalsPals

      May 11, 2021 at 7:16 am

      Stats no…the friendly sarcasm, BS….go O’s…

    • CalsPals

      May 11, 2021 at 8:29 am

      Don’t read my stuff & yes, I am old, not everyone gets the same version of me, one person might tell you I’m an amazing beautiful soul, another might say I’m a jerk, believe them both, I act accordingly…go O’s & take Tileman with you…

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      May 11, 2021 at 2:14 pm

      His status suck too. 1st off, he only uses them when it fit’s his narrative, and ignores then when they prove he doesn’t know spit.

      Looks like the place if filling up with basement dwellers. Sheesh. I’d go hard on them except for the censorship that now permeates the site and our country. My hurt someone’s feelings. Can’t have that can we?

    • CalsPals

      May 11, 2021 at 2:32 pm

      Agree, some youngens have the toughness of a marshmallow…good thing we don’t have a draft anymore, 1/2 wouldn’t know what the hell to do…oh well…go O’s…

  6. Boog Robinson Robinson

    May 10, 2021 at 9:30 pm

    Congratulations once again to Mr. Perfect, John Means. ALPOW

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