John Means anchored the Baltimore Orioles’ pitching effort last night in a pitching duel that went to extras. With the Orioles playing out a string on the season and New York in the thick of contention, maybe you couldn’t have expected much last night. Out of even a an ace like Means, or out of the Orioles in general. But we saw what this group of Birds could be last night. We saw the future, and it was good. Means’ line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K.
You don’t expect a team like the Orioles to match New York, the “Bronx Bombers,” pitch-for-pitch in a pitcher’s duel. But they did. Means was strong in his five innings. He didn’t totally keep New York off the board, but he put the Birds in a position to win. And that may have been more than anyone was expecting.
New York tagged Means for a solo homer by Stanton in the fourth, and a sac fly-RBI by LeMahieu in the fifth. And make no mistake that Means will take a solo homer and a sac fly. For the most part those aren’t going to hurt you. And they didn’t last night.
However the O’s wanted to remind the Bronx crowd that there were two teams playing in this game. Granted the same applies – in that solo homers aren’t going to beat you – when you get two solo homers towards the latter part of a game you’re losing 2-0, that’s a big deal. The Orioles got solo shots off the bats of Trey Mancini (6th inning) and Jorge Mateo (7th inning). That tied the game at two.
The game went to extra innings, and the Orioles took a brief lead. Ryan Mountcastle took advantage of the ghost runner on second in extra innings rule, and smacked an RBI-single in the tenth. However in the bottom of the frame LeMahieu did the same, tying the game. One inning later Stanton’s RBI-single would send the O’s to defeat, 4-3.
But you have to tip your cap to the Birds. They battled last night. And they battled hard. That shows a lot of character, especially at a time when perhaps coaches, players, and fans alike are looking to the end. But there’s no quit in these guys, and it showed last night.