John Means got the ball this afternoon for the Baltimore Orioles in the series finale against Oakland. The Birds of course had dropped the first two games of the series, and Oakland came into the game having won 13 straight games. Was he up to the challenge? You tell me; Means’ line: 6.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 6 K.
This series thus far has showcased the Orioles pushing too hard. This game was different in that it was a pitcher’s duel. Means and Oakland starter Luzardo matched one another pitch for pitch.
Whereas the other two games showed the O’s leaving a lot of guys on base, there weren’t many opportunities in this game. Not many guys got into scoring position. And with Means on the mound, that boded well for the O’s.
The O’s took a 1-0 lead in the last of the second when Austin Hays deposited a solo homer into the outfield grandstand. It was also the first time in the series the O’s had the lead. One could argue that shows the Orioles are struggling. But perhaps more poignantly it shows how well Oakland’s playing.
And Oakland came right back to tie it in the fourth. Laureano’s solo home run knotted it up at one. However Means limited the damage, which is a key tenant of winning games. Just ask the Oakland A’s.
I suppose the question is whether or not the hero on the day was John Means or Austin Hays. A little of both, in my view. But Hays came back to bat in the last of the fourth with a runner on. And he repeated home run performance with a two-run homer, which gave the Orioles the lead back at 3-1. Maikel Franco’s solo homer and Ryan McKenna walking with the bases loaded in the last of the eighth would add an insurance runs. The Birds would also net a run when Cedric Mullins reached on an error, and two on Trey Mancini’s two-run single.
The Orioles’ bullpen was equally as dominant as Means, and they closed out the Birds’ 8-1 victory. Again, that snaps an impressive 13-game winning streak for Oakland. The O’s did what they hadn’t done this entire series; they loosened up, and they took advantage of their opportunities. And they won.
Tomorrow the O’s will open a four-game set against the NY Yankees at Camden Yards. Matt Harvey gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by NY’s Deivi Garcia. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.