John Means turned in perhaps the best start of the spring this evening at Ed Smith Stadium against Atlanta. We saw, perhaps for the first time, Means return to his first half 2019 form, which netted him an all-star birth. Means’ line: 4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K.
Means indicated after his outing that he felt he was locating his non-breaking pitches well (Quote courtesy of Steve Melewski, MASNSports):
I felt the fastball-changeup combination was good. I thought I was getting ahead and attacking the zone. Kind of felt in rhythm. I think body is recovering well and my arm feels good. Everything is working for the most part. Still probably need to throw a little bit more breaking balls, but other than that, I feel real good.
Means gave up a solo homer to Albies in the top of the fourth. And in terms of runs, that’s all he surrendered. Granted he only pitched four innings, but he put the team in a position to win the game. That’s all you can ask of a starter.
The O’s would tie the game at one in the last of the fifth on a sac fly/m-RBI by Cedric Mullins. Rio Ruiz would give them the lead an inning later on an RBI-double. Later in the inning Austin Hays would break the game wide open with a bases-clearing double, running the score to 5-1. Atlanta would tack a run on in the top of the fifth to close out the Birds’ 5-2 victory.
The other good news in this game (besides Means’ outing) was the clutch hitting of the likes of Mullins, Ruiz, and Hays. You have to have clutch hitting if you’re going to win games, and that shows that the Orioles have guys who know the situations in which they come up, and what they mean in terms of winning and losing.
The Orioles end this section of the schedule with a win. They’ll have an off day tomorrow, after which they’ll begin the “stretch run” of the spring so to speak. They won’t have another off day until March 30th, which will officially be after they break camp. Get your popcorn ready!