Today was what Baltimore Orioles fans affectionately call “John Means Day.” That of course signifies a day that John Means starts for the Birds. And he probably had his best outing since going on the DL in early June tonight against Detroit. Means’ line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K.
My personal opinion is that Means looked as good last Sunday against Washington as he did tonight. However late in that outing he gave up a three-run homer, and left in line to be the loser. Other than that he pitched great. Minus the home run, he looked equally as good this evening.
Ryan Mountcastle’s third inning RBI-single gave the O’s a 1-0 lead. Means did however surrender one homer, and it was a solo shot to Haase in the fourth. That tied the game at four. But Means wasn’t about to allow that to snowball, and Oriole bats weren’t about to quit.
Maikel Franco hit a solo homer of his own in the fifth, giving the Birds the lead back at 2-1. In theory, that’s all the Orioles needed. But a one/m-run lead is the worst kind to have.
I’ve written a lot about how the O’s need to start holding their opponents accountable for their mistakes in games. The fact is that opponents hold the Birds accountable all the time. An error snowballs into a big inning, or a misplaced pitch travels a long way into the stands. Teams aren’t shy about making the Birds pay for their mistakes.
The O’s loaded the bases in the sixth, and with two outs it appeared that they were going to let Detroit off the hook. Maikel Franco looked to have grounded out to short. However…Detroit second baseman Castro bobbled the throw from the shortstop, and eventually dropped it. Franco was safe at first, a run scored, and the bases were still loaded.
Mind you, that one run doesn’t represent holding your opponent accountable. The O’s basically got that one by default as a result of the mistake. The holding accountable part came in the immediate aftermath – when Pat Valaika smacked a two-run single, giving the O’s a 5-1 lead.
That was a huge moment in the game, and the Orioles rose to the occasion. And in doing so they gave their starter John Means a cushion in a game in which he was outstanding. Detroit would load the bases in the ninth, but they only were able to muster a sole run to narrow the lead to 5-2, this on an RBI-groundout.
The O’s will go for the series win in the finale tomorrow at Comerica Park. Spenser Watkins gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Detroit’s Tyler Alexander. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.