The Orioles wasted a good game from their de facto ace, John Means, tonight. Means gave up only one run in six innings, but a lack of offense from the hitters and another meltdown from the bullpen spelled the team’s doom. The result was a 4-2 loss and another lost series in this lost season.
Some good news about this game is that it was Bark at the Park night, meaning many of the fans in attendance were dogs who probably don’t care about the results on the field. And the humans who accompanied these good dogs to the game at least had a bunch of cute dogs to play with instead of being forced to watch every pitch of another losing Orioles game.
And then there is John Means, who continues to perform as the best pitcher on the team. Means worked three straight 1-2-3 innings before giving up his only run in the fourth. After an infield single, Nicholas Castellanos doubled off the right field wall. Though they’d only get the one run, Means had to throw 27 pitches to get out of the inning, which meant that six innings was as far as he could go.
After the RBI double by Castellanos, Means settled right back down. He retired eight of the final nine batters that he faced and didn’t look particularly taxed in doing so. But the only way to keep the Orioles bullpen from giving up runs is by pitching a complete game, and that just wasn’t in the cards. Means’s final pitching line was 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 K. He lowered his ERA to 2.80.
In recent games the offense has not been the problem with the Orioles, but tonight they just couldn’t get their acts together. They took the lead in the first inning when Tigers’ outfielder JaCoby Jones misplayed a Renato Núñez fly ball into a double. Trey Mancini, who had been at first after being hit by a pitch, looked like he would be out by a mile at home plate, but the ball skipped past the catcher to keep the play from being close.
The Orioles scored their second and final run in the fourth inning when new Oriole Keon Broxton hit his second home run since joining the team. That gave the Orioles a 2-1 lead at the time, but their squandered base runners came back to haunt them once the bullpen was in the game.
In the third inning the Orioles had two runners on with just one out, but Mancini and Núñez couldn’t bring them in. They wasted a similar opportunity in the fifth inning, but once starter Ryan Carpenter came out of the game after five innings, they were shut down by the Tigers’ bullpen. I wonder what it’s like to be on the other side of that?
When John Means left the game the Orioles were clinging to a 2-1 lead. Demoted closer Mychal Givens pitched the seventh inning and looked great, which I guess tricked Brandon Hyde into thinking Givens had another inning in him. “No!! Not at second inning!” all of Birdland yelled.
All of Birdland was correct. Givens gave up the game-tying home run to the first batter he faced. Hyde took him out then, but it was too late. Richard Bleier relieved him and finished the inning.
Ninth inning pitcher Branden Kline walked the first batter he faced, which seems like a bad thing to do in a tie game in the ninth inning. Two batters later, Brandon Dixon hit the go-ahead two-run dinger that was the end of the Orioles. Pinch hitter Stevie Wilkerson tried his best with a double in the ninth, but otherwise the Orioles quietly wrapped up their 39th loss of the season.
I don’t want to leave you on a down note, though if you’re reading this as an Orioles fan you’re surely used to it. So here are some pictures of those adorable pups who invaded Camden Yards tonight: