PHILADELPHIA—Orioles pitcher John Means has been critical of his recent starts, but he had little to complain about on Monday night.
Means allowed just four hits in 6 2/3 scoreless innings as the Orioles beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 2-0, before an announced crowd of 21,140 at Citizens Bank Park. He also hit a 400-foot double, much to the delight of his teammates.
It was just the second win for Means (6-7) since his May 5th no-hitter, and probably his best start of the season other than that masterpiece.
He struck out six and walked one. It was his first win since July 31st.
“This felt more like me,” Means said. “The changeup was good today, finally. The fastball was working, the curveball wasn’t as good, but I made it through. This felt like more my style of pitching.”
The Orioles (48-102) had lost eight of nine and don’t play American League East teams for a week.
“This was our best starter giving a great effort,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “He pitched an outstanding ballgame … Meansy had the changeup tonight. That was the big difference. It was something that he’s struggled with the past handful of starts, finding the changeup again, and he did tonight … a great job pitching against a team that’s fighting for a playoff spot.”
Philadelphia (76-74) began the evening two games behind National League East-leading Atlanta.
The Orioles, who had not won a game when scoring two or fewer runs this season, began quickly in the first with singles from four of the first five batters — Austin Hays, Anthony Santander, Pedro Severino and Ryan McKenna. Severino and McKenna had RBIs to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead and end the scoring for the night.
“I was happy with how we swung the bat in that first inning,” Hyde said.
Means walked Bryce Harper with two outs in the first and Andrew McCutchen singled to lead off the second. Means retired 13 straight until Odúbel Herrera’s base hit with one out in the sixth.
Phillies starter Ranger Suarez (6-4) settled down after the first. No other runner reached second in his six innings.
Means doubled with one out in the seventh and tried to take third when a pitch from Sam Coonrod got away from J.T. Realmuto but was thrown out.
It’s likely that in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the designated hitter will come to the National League.
“If that’s my last at-bat,” Means said. “I’m happy with it.”
Hyde had fun talking about Means’ at-bat and attempt to reach third.
“That was the last thing I wanted to see,” Hyde said. “Either a homer where you can jog or a punchout, but he hits a double, which we’re going to hear [about] for the next 13 days and into spring training, and then he decides to advance on a wild pitch off the best throwing catcher in the league. But he’s happy about his pop-up slide, and I didn’t want to see any of that.”
It was the first hit by an Orioles pitcher since Means singled against Arizona on July 24, 2019.
In the bottom of the seventh, Realmuto led off with a single. With one out, Pat Vierling singled. After Didi Gregorius hit into a force play, Cole Sulser replaced Means, who threw 105 pitches, more than in any game but the no-hitter.
“He was very good, especially when he used the fastball a lot,” Severino said. “He just tried to work on the changeup like he did in 2020. When he locates the fastball, the other pitches have to work for sure. That’s what we did tonight.”
Freddy Galvis lined to right to end the seventh, and Sulser retired the side in order in the eighth.
Harper began the ninth with a long fly to center against Tyler Wells. Realmuto hit a drive to right that Santander caught, and Andrew McCutchen popped to Severino as Phillies fans booed. It was Wells’ third save of the season, and the Orioles finished their fourth shutout, their first since July 18th.
With the victory, the Orioles surpassed their win total from 2018 when they recorded their fewest wins in team history and went 47-115.
“It’s a really good team with a really big payroll, got a ton of veteran players,” Hyde said. “I think we’re playing like we’ve got nothing to lose, like we should, but we’re playing postseason-type rosters. We’re very, very inexperienced. We’ve struggled on the mound. Tonight, we had a good pitching performance and scored a couple of runs early.”
Notes: Hyde said that Chris Ellis has arm fatigue and won’t start on Tuesday night. The Orioles will throw a bullpen game and announce the starter during the day. Philadelphia will also throw a bullpen game.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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