What they're saying about Hays' key hit, surgery for Means, Wells after Orioles' 3-1 win over Rays - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

What they’re saying about Hays’ key hit, surgery for Means, Wells after Orioles’ 3-1 win over Rays

Photo Credit: Reggie Hildred-USA TODAY Sports


BALTIMORE—What happened? Hours after executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias announced that Oriole starters John Means and Tyler Wells would have season-ending elbow surgery, the Orioles recorded a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

It was the Orioles’ seventh win in eight games.

In the sixth, Austin Hays had a pinch-hit RBI single that tied the game at 1, and Jorge Mateo delivered a two-run double that put the Orioles ahead.

Hays is hitting just .173, and the RBI was only his sixth of the season.



“He’s got a great attitude, and this is not easy for him, so I give him a ton of credit for staying ready, being ready,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “He’s done a lot of good things here and to kind of accept the [lack of] playing time now is not easy. I’d love to get him going. He can really impact a baseball game, not only offensively, but defensively.”

Is there confidence in Hays, Mullins and Santander? In addition to talking about the impact of losing Means and Wells, Elias discussed the prolonged slumps of Hays and the two other veteran outfielders, Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander.

Hays pinch hit for Mullins, who was robbed of a hit by centerfielder Jose Siri in the second inning. Santander started the sixth-inning rally with a single and was 2-for-4 to raise his average to .211; Mullins is hitting .185.

Elias insisted he still has faith in the veterans.

“Probably not as concerned as people watching are because we believe in those guys,” Elias said. “We’ve seen what they’ve done over the years. We know what their skill level is. We know what baseball’s like. They’re going to do better than this.

“It’s coming. That said, we have other players. If somebody’s struggling, if somebody’s working on things behind the scenes, making changes, you may see our lineups evolve on a day-to-day basis, but those guys got us here and we’re going to keep investing in them, and they’re going to be big parts of wherever we go this season.

“I’m hopeful that we’re going to see those numbers creep up soon, and I think we’ve seen some encouraging swings from some of those guys lately. Some of the balls have fallen, some of them haven’t. There’s been some positive trends already to see.”

How difficult has this been for Hays? Hays was on the 10-day injured list with a strained left calf muscle and has lost playing time to Colton Cowser in left.

“I understand the situation I’m in right now,” Hays said. “I’m ready to take that at-bat whenever it comes. Right there, it was a big moment in the game, and I was able to take advantage of it. It feels good.

“It’s been really tough. Pretty much the opposite of last year. It’s tested me a lot, but I feel like I’m handling it as best as I can. I’m showing up to the park every day with a positive mindset, being ready for the moments like tonight to contribute any way I can for the good of the team, being ready to play defense whenever I can and take advantage of my starts when I do get them. Just trying to handle myself like a professional.”

The right-handed hitting Hays has pinch-hit for the left-handed hitting Mullins several times. In previous years, both played regularly.

“We’re not performing like we’ve always performed,” Hays said. “We haven’t done what’s expected of us. We need to play better … I wish we were playing better right now, but we’re not. We need to step up for this team, and we’re going to.”

How big a loss is Means? Hyde feels for Means, who worked hard to come back from his April 2022 Tommy John surgery. The 31-year-old left-hander had eight starts, four last year and four this year.

“It’s true adversity,” Hyde said. “It’s hard to deal with it. To see him go through all that, pitch really well toward the end of the year for us. His season got delayed a little bit, and to have this happen now, it’s incredibly disappointing.”

“It’s heartbreaking,” Hays said. “It was a long road for Means to get back here with the team. That’s really tough. I’ve been with John for a long time. Wellsy, too. It’s really tough. You have to move forward. The game doesn’t stop for anybody. It doesn’t slow down for anybody.”

Albert Suárez, a 34-year-old right-hander who’s in the starting rotation because of the injuries to Means, Wells and Dean Kremer, worked five innings and allowed a run on five hits.

He’ll continue to assume a larger role whether as a starter or long reliever.

“That’s something I don’t control,” Suárez said. “I’ll be in the bullpen or starting. My mentality is go out there and do my job.”

“It’s unfortunate what happened,” Mateo said. “It’s unfortunate for the team. Our goal remains the same, to go out there and win the game, so it’s unfortunate for those guys to hear the news today.”

Is a six-man rotation still a possibility? Hyde has spoken about a six-man rotation, but that was when it seemed as if the Orioles had too many starters.

“We’re keeping all options open,” Hyde said. “I think you forecast what you hope for the next three weeks is going to look like. Stuff like this happens, and you take a step back and make some adjustments. We would love to, but we’ll see what happens.”

Where was Westburg? Jordan Westburg missed his second game with a sore right hand. The infielder was hit by a pitch there on Tuesday night.

“He feels a lot better today. He’s still a little sore, but we’re hoping he can be in there the next couple of days,” Hyde said.

What does it mean? While the Orioles have played well without major contributions from Hays, Mullins and Santander, it would be a significant boost if they played better. If their play improves in the coming weeks, perhaps the Orioles won’t seek another veteran outfielder.

What’s the word? “It’s really disappointing. Two guys you really pull for. You were hoping for better news. I’m disappointed for them personally that they’re not going pitch for us this year and be with us. It’s a big blow.”-Hyde on the loss of Means and Wells

What’s the stat of the day? 430. Kimbrel’s save was the 430th of his career, passing Boston Kenley Jansen for fifth place on the all-time saves list. Earlier this month, Kimbrel was in the midst of a rough patch, and after Hyde briefly moved him out of the closer’s role, he’s returned and converted five straight save chances.

“Pitching him in a few games in a different spot. I don’t know if that got him going or not. It seemed to, and he’s been pitching really well every since,” Hyde said.

What’s going on in the minor leagues? Elias said that Triple-A Norfolk corner infielder Coby Mayo, who fractured a rib when he ran into a dugout railing on May 17th, is improving.

“It wasn’t a real bad break,” Elias said. “He’s starting to do some rotational stuff. Swinging will be very soon to follow. If it goes well, it could be in the next couple of days and his return is measured in weeks rather than anything beyond that. That’s all moving along pretty well and just kind of back luck and not bad timing. Hopefully that will be behind us.”

Leftfielder Connor Norby had a three-run triple and second baseman Jackson Holliday a two-run double as Norfolk beat Gwinnett, 7-6. Starter Cade Povich allowed six runs on four hits in three innings. Centerfielder Daniel Johnson hit his 10th home run.

Rightfielder TT Bowens homered and drove in three runs in Double-A Bowie’s 13-5 loss to Somerset.

Scott Etzel drove in two runs in High-A Aberdeen’s 10-3 loss to Hudson Valley.

Carolina beat Single-A Delmarva, 4-2. Leftfielder Stiven Acevedo drove in both Shorebirds runs. .

What’s next? Kyle Bradish (1-0, 1.75 will face Tampa Bay’s Taj Bradley (1-2, 3.13) on Saturday at 4:05 p.m.

Call for questions: Each weekday, I’ll be answering at least one Orioles’ question. Please send yours to: [email protected]


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