After John Means pitched a no-hitter on May 5th, it looked as if he was heading for a statistically outstanding season. However, Means hadn’t won a game in nearly three months.
Means spent six weeks on the 10-day injured list because of a strained left shoulder, and in his third start since returning won for the first time since his no-hitter.
He allowed a home run in six innings, giving up just four hits, striking out six and walking one as the Orioles beat the Detroit Tigers, 5-2, at Comerica Park on Saturday night.
“That was definitely nice to see,” Means said. “I definitely still have some things to work on. As far as the results go, I liked it. I liked the changeup tonight. It was pretty satisfying.”
Means threw 99 pitches. It was his first quality start since May 24th.
“John Means was outstanding,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I liked his curveball. I thought he mixed his pitches extremely well … Six extremely strong innings, pitched in and out. He was really efficient with his pitching. He came out with a nice lead.
“John Means looked like he did in April. This was early-season form.”
It was the Orioles’ second win in three games against the Tigers (50-57). Since the All-Star break, the Orioles (37-66) are 9-5.
“Guys are starting to feel for what they need to do to have success at this level, especially the young guys,” Means said. “They’re seeing how teams are approaching us, especially from the pitching side and adjusting to it, which is the name of the game. It’s a game of constant adjustments, and it’s really cool to see.”
Tigers starter Matt Manning (2-4) allowed a bloop RBI single to Ryan Mountcastle that scored Cedric Mullins in the third.
Eric Haase’s 18th home run to left field tied the score at 1 in the fourth, and was the only run given up by Means (5-3).
Maikel Franco homered in the fifth, his 11th, to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead.
Later in the game, it appeared that Franco’s right ankle was bothering him. A sprain of that ankle put him on the injured list for nearly three weeks in July.
“At the end of the day, I’m not 100 percent, but it’s getting better every single day,” Franco said.
After Mountcastle singled, Ramón Urias and DJ Stewart walked to begin the sixth. Manning nearly got out of the inning when Pedro Severino popped out to second on the first pitch of the at-bat. Franco then grounded to short, but Detroit second baseman Willi Castro couldn’t handle shortstop Zack Short’s relay. Mountcastle scored on the error. Pat Valaika followed with single to right field to score Urías and Stewart, and the Orioles led, 5-1.
“That was a huge play,” Hyde said about the error. “We cashed in on a mistake, which good teams do.”
Paul Fry pitched a spotless seventh, and Dillon Tate threw a scoreless eighth.
But Tanner Scott, who had an awful eighth inning on Friday night, had a bad ninth on Saturday. Scott walked leadoff hitter Jeimier Candelario, hit Castro with a pitch and then walked Short to load the bases. Again like Friday, Hyde called for Cole Sulser to preserve the lead. Sulser saved Friday night’s game after Scott and Tate gave up three runs in the eighth.
“I just think his timing is a little bit off,” Hyde said of Scott. “Coming in after the game, his knee was a little sore. We’re going to re-evaluate that. I don’t know if that was affecting him or not.
“He’s not getting the chases on his slider. His fastball is erratic the last couple of nights. He’s somebody we believe in, and he’s got a great arm. Pitchers go through this. We expect him to come out of it and be the dominating guy that he is.”
Akill Baddoo grounded to first for the first out with Candelario scoring. Sulser caught Derek Hill looking and struck out Jonathan Schoop to end the game and record his fifth save.
Note: Spenser Watkins (2-1, 3.10 ERA) will face Tyler Alexander (1-1, 4.80) on Sunday.
Minor league update: Dean Kremer allowed a run on a hit in three innings in relief in Triple-A Norfolk’s 12-6 loss to Durham. Kremer walked two and struck out four.
Rightfielder Robert Neustrom had two hits and drove in three runs. Second baseman Jahmai Jones hit his eighth home run, a two-run shot.
In his third rehab game with Double-A Bowie, Richie Martin hit a two-run home run, and Drew Rom pitched five strong innings in the Baysox’s 2-1 win over Richmond. Bowie had just two hits.
Rom (1-0) allowed one run on four hits in five innings, striking out six and walking two.
Bruce Zimmermann, who is on the 10-day injured list because of left biceps tendinitis, allowed two runs, one unearned, on three hits in three innings as High-A Aberdeen lost to Bowling Green, 9-3
Zimmermann threw 55 pitches, struck out four and walked two. He’ll pitch again next week for Norfolk, executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said, and then should return to the Orioles.
Centerfielder Hudson Haskin and leftfielder Shayne Fontana each had two hits for the IronBirds.
Low-A Delmarva was held to three hits in the Shorebirds’ 2-1 loss to Fredericksburg.
Rightfielder Cristopher Cespedes hit his 10th home run and first baseman TT Bowens had two hits.
Nick Roth (0-1) allowed two eighth-inning runs to the Nationals.