It begins and ends with starting pitching for the Baltimore Orioles. This evening, that means it began and ended with John Means. After falling off just a bit after the all-star break, Means stepped up tonight and pitched himself and the Orioles to a quality start. Means’ line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 K.
Means was on point throughout the entire outing. However the zero walks really stands out. In a year where the Orioles have seemingly allowed the entire world to homer or walk, Means didn’t issue any free passes. In a year where John Means has impressed from the beginning, he was outstanding tonight.
And for once, the Orioles got a quality start and the bats followed suit. They put two runners on base in the first inning, and Hanser Alberto scored on a wild pitch. Tampa of course employer an opener, however the Orioles chased him before the first inning was even over.
However the lone dim moment for the Orioles came in that first inning when they allowed Tampa to turn a double-play with the bases loaded and one out. You have to hold opponents accountable when they get into jams. Because in this case Tampa’s usually the type of team that says thank you very much when given opportunities. Luckily for the O’s, that didn’t happen tonight.
Tampa brought in Pruit to pitch after the opener, and he found himself similarly in trouble in the last of the third. The O’s had runners at the corners with nobody out, and Tampa employee a shift. Hanser Alberto was at third, and with nobody holding him on at third base he began creeping down the line. As he danced around between third base and home plate, he was obviously causing Pruit angst on the mound…
…and Pruit as a result would allow the runner at first to steal second, and an additional base runner at third. Still intimidated by Alberto, he eventually hung a fastball to Pedro Severino. And Severino find.’the disappoint, depositing a grand slam in the left field grandstand, and giving the Birds a 5-0 lead.
Don’t underestimate the role that Hanser Alberto played in that sequence. In case you don’t follow my twitter feed and aren’t aware of my stance on shifts, I’m not a fan. And that situation illustrates one of the many reasons why. Tampa gave Severino the entire left field line – because his spray charts show you don’t really have to guard that area against him.
But what the shift doesn’t foresee is having a runner on base who’s pushing the limits of coming down the line. Alberto was dancing around between third and home for several minutes, and Pruit was very wary of it. And T affected his concentration, causing him to hang that fastball to Severino.
To top it off, Alberto and Jonathan Villar would go back-to-back on solo homers one inning later. That ran the lead to 7-1. Tampa’s Brosseau would smack a solo shot of his own in the fifth, cutting the lead to 7-1. But that doesn’t overshadow Means’ superb outing, or Alberto’s antics. Granted Pedro Severino still had to hit that grand slam out of the park, but credit part of it to Hanser Alberto.
The series continues tomorrow afternoon at Camden Yards. Dylan Bundy gets the call for the O’s, and Tampa is yet to name a starter. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.