Means is brilliant in return, Cano delivers clutch save to lead Orioles to 2-1 win over Reds -
Rich Dubroff

Means is brilliant in return, Cano delivers clutch save to lead Orioles to 2-1 win over Reds

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

CINCINNATI—John Means made his first start of the season, and it was an outstanding one. Means, who had Tommy John surgery in April 2022 and made four September starts last season, was taken off the Orioles’ roster for last year’s Division Series because of a sore left elbow, and the team decided to delay his season until now.

On Saturday night, Means went seven innings, allowing just three hits, in the Orioles’ 2-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds before 33,202 at Great American Ball Park.

However, it took a clutch save from Yennier Cano to preserve Means’ win. Oriole closer Craig Kimbrel was removed in the bottom of the ninth after facing four batters. Jake Fraley led off with a single, snapping an 0-for-22 streak. Jonathan India walked, and after Kimbrel struck out Elly De La Cruz, Spencer Steer singled to score Fraley, and put runners at first and third.

Manager Brandon Hyde called upon Cano, who walked Tyler Stephenson to load the bases. He then struck out Christian Encarnacion-Strand and got Jeimer Candelario to fly out to shallow left field for his first save of the season.

Means (1-0) was the story, though. He struck out eight without walking a batter in 85 pitches. His 19 swings and misses were the most since he threw a no-hitter in Seattle on May 5th, 2021.

Means gave up a single to Encarnacion-Strand with one out in the second, a two-out double to India in the third, and a two-out single to India in the sixth. An exceptional hustle play by second baseman Jorge Mateo prevented India from getting to second. After third baseman Jordan Westburg charged India’s ground ball and threw the ball past Ryan Mountcastle at first, Mateo recovered the ball in foul territory and threw out India at second.

The Orioles have won five of their last six games.

Mateo hit his second home run in the fourth, and Adley Rutschman his fifth in the fifth against Andrew Abbott (1-4) for the Orioles’ runs.

Gunnar Henderson made two excellent plays at shortstop, snaring Encarnacion-Strand’s liner at the top of his jump to end the seventh. It was Means’ final batter, and he acknowledged Henderson’s play, just as he did Mateo’s.

After Cionel Pérez started the eighth and allowed a single to  Candelario. Henderson started a nifty double play by deftly fielding Santiago Espinal’s grounder, running to second to force Candelario, and making a leaping throw to first for the double play.

The Orioles (22-11) have played 102 consecutive regular-season series without being swept, the fourth longest streak in baseball history.

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