BALTIMORE—The Orioles were looking for their second consecutive series win and had their best starter on the mound in John Means. He did his job, but the hitters didn’t do theirs in the Kansas City Royals’ 6-0 win before an announced crowd of 5,087 on Thursday night.
Means allowed a home run to Nicky Lopez, the game’s second batter, and held the Royals to two runs on five hits in seven-plus innings. He walked two and struck out five.
“I was just frustrated I couldn’t get through that eighth,” Means said. “I’ve got to be able to go out and finish. My pitch count’s not very high. I wasn’t able to do that. That’s the only negative thing I really have.”
The Orioles’ real negative was their offense, which put together three hits in the second inning and not another after that. They split the four-game series with the Royals and scored in only one inning — nine runs in the eighth on Wednesday — in the final two games.
Manager Brandon Hyde replaced Means (5-7) with Tanner Scott after he allowed a leadoff double by Hunter Dozier in the eighth. Dozier took third on a fly ball to right by Whit Merrifield and scored on a single by Lopez against a drawn-in infield.
“He was really good,” Hyde said about Means. “Besides the homer to Lopez early and the double to Dozier in the eighth, he was in complete command … He did a great job. We just didn’t score for him.”
Means has won just once in 15 starts since his May 5th no-hitter and hasn’t had the same command of his best pitch, the changeup. Four of his five strikeouts came on the curve.
“My changeup has sucked lately, to be honest,” Means said. “The curveball has been he pitch that’s been more consistent. Hopefully, we can get everything working here soon.”
Andrew Benintendi’s RBI single, which deflected off the glove of second baseman Jahmai Jones, scored Lopez, and Salvador Perez came home on an infield out by Carlos Santana to give the Royals (62-78) a 4-0 lead. Scott was charged with two runs.
“If you look at Tanner’s inning, they didn’t hit one ball hard,” Hyde said. “Not a whole lot of hard contact. He just didn’t put guys away with the slider.”
Dozier hit a two-run homer, his 11th, against reliever Manny Barreda in the ninth.
The Orioles (45-94) last won consecutive series against Minnesota and Cleveland from June 1st-6th, following their 14-game losing streak,
The Orioles had a chance to score against Royals starter Carlos Hernández in the second. With two outs, Pedro Severino, Jorge Mateo and Jones singled. Severino tried to score on the hit by Jones but was an easy out at home after a strong throw from Benintendi in left.
Those three hits were the only ones allowed by Hernández (6-1) in six innings. Hernández, Domingo Tapia and Scott Barlow retired 16 straight Orioles until DJ Stewart walked with two outs in the ninth.
“We had a tough time getting a rally together,” Hyde said. “I thought we drove a few balls to the wall the first half of the game … Besides that we didn’t square many balls up.”
Notes: Hyde said that Matt Harvey, who was placed on the 10-day injured list because of right knee inflammation, will be getting tests. “He’s definitely going to be out for a while,” Hyde said about a possible season-ending injury. “We’ll see when and if he comes back.” … The Orioles were shut out for the ninth time. … Chris Ellis (1-0, 2.16 ERA) will face Robbie Ray (11-5, 2.60) when the Orioles begin a four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night.
Minor league update: Third baseman Tyler Nevin hit a three-run home run, and first baseman J.C. Escarra added a two-run homer as Triple-A Norfolk beat Durham, 6-5. Nevin’s homer was his 14th. Escarra hit his fourth.
Grayson Rodriguez pitched three perfect innings, striking out five, in Double-A Bowie’s 5-3 win over Harrisburg. The Baysox hit four solo homers. Shortstop Jordan Westburg hit his third, rightfielder Zach Watson his 10th, third baseman Patrick Dorrian his 19th, and first baseman Andrew Daschbach his sixth.
Connor Loeprich allowed a run on three hits in five innings as High-A Aberdeen lost to Wilmington, 6-5. Loeprich struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter. Designated hitter Cristopher Cespedes had three hits and two RBIs.
Shortstop Darrel Hernaiz hit a two-run home run, his sixth, and centerfielder Colton Cowser had two hits as Low-A Delmarva beat Fredericksburg, 6-2. Cowser, the Orioles’ first pick in the 2021 draft, is batting .368. Peter Van Loon started and allowed one hit in four scoreless innings.