This one was worth the wait.
Two hours and 42 minutes after they were scheduled to play, the Orioles finally took the field. And once they did, they gave the fans who stayed through the inclement weather a show, hitting four home runs and getting another strong outing from lefty John Means in a 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
Baltimore, which dropped the first two games to the Angels but never trailed in the finale Sunday, improved to 14-26.
Rain delays have a tendency to suck the life and urgency out of a game, and that appeared to be a developing situation early as Means labored through a taxing first inning. But the Angels didn’t capitalize, and given the chance, the Orioles pounced.
The rally started when Chris Davis got a 2-2 fastball to lead off the second inning and used his familiar easy, yet powerful swing to knock the ball onto the flag court for his fifth home run of the season. Two batters later, it was Stevie Wilkerson jumping all over a Griffin Canning offering, drilling a home run to right center field and making it 2-0.
The Angels got one back in the third when Mike Trout crushed a shot to center field for a home run to make it 2-1, but the Orioles continued to use the long ball to answer. This time it was Dwight Smith Jr., who took over the team lead with his eighth home run, a two-run home run to center on a 2-0 count that brought in Jonathan Villar (who had singled) and made it 4-1 in the bottom half of the inning.
The Orioles’ final run came on their fourth homer of the afternoon, a line drive from Pedro Severino that hooked inside the left field pole and made it 5-1 in the sixth.
The Baltimore bats were hot today. The O’s hit early and often, getting runners in scoring position in the fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings, and could have really put a crooked number on the board had it not been for their struggles with runners in scoring position (0-for-8 altogether, although the last out was a diving catch by David Fletcher that likely robbed Rio Ruiz of a bases-clearing triple).
Instead, they settled for doing their damage at the start of the innings.
It all added up to being more than enough support for Means, who’s been the Orioles’ best pitcher this season, but who seemed to be dooming himself to an early exit at the start of the game. An error by Hanser Alberto put the leadoff batter of the game on, and after a fielder’s choice, a walk to Andrelton Simmons put runners on first and second.
Means flirted with damage, going to 3-2 counts on both Albert Pujols and Kole Calhoun, but escaped unscathed when he forced them both to pop up to third. Still, it appeared the Angels had done enough. Means was at 29 pitches, meaning he was set up for a short start, and the soft underbelly of the Orioles’ bullpen would be exposed for longer than manager Brandon Hyde would want.
Means, however, steadied out, which is another positive sign from the 26-year-old rookie. He didn’t have his best stuff but saved the big moments for his biggest pitches, allowing only the one run on the Trout homer and going six innings while striking out four and allowing three walks and four hits. After a troubling start, Means managed to not only become the pitcher of record, but record a quality start as well.
The Orioles’ bullpen, which came into today sporting a 5.96 ERA, didn’t let this one get away. Paul Fry, Shawn Armstrong and Mychal Givens each pitched a scoreless inning of relief, though Armstrong and Means were both helped by the Baltimore defense. The Orioles, who came in tied for the American League lead with 42 double plays turned, spun three more Sunday, the last of which came in the eighth inning and nixed the Angels’ last semblance of a threat.
The Orioles got a collective win, but Hyde got one as well. The skipper moved Smith Jr. into the No. 2 spot in the lineup for the first time since late April, and put Davis in the cleanup spot for the first time all season. He got three hits, two home runs and three RBI from the move. Not bad.
The Orioles who played Sunday, with power hitting, solid pitching and exciting defense, look like a decent team. Here’s hoping that team shows up in New York this week. Too bad they can’t send out Means every time.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Sunday, May 12, 2019?
This poll is closed
John Means (6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 4 Ks)
Dwight Smith Jr. (2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI)
Chris Davis (1-for-4, HR)
Stevie Wilkerson (1-for-3, HR)