In a rare display of competency, the Orioles beat the Blue Jays 4-2 on Tuesday night. The victory was the result of yet another impressive start from John Means, a solid performance from the bullpen and just enough offense from the lineup. These guys really are capable of playing compelling baseball from time to time!
The night did not get off to the best start for the Orioles starter, Means. It began with a lead-off home run off the bat of Blue Jays second baseman Eric Sogard on the fourth pitch of the game.
Means would not allow another run in that inning, but it took him 33 pitches in total to record the first three outs of the game. His odds of going deep into the game looked bleak.
But this is Rookie-of-the-Year-candidate John Means we’re talking about here. The lefty battled through spotty command to completely shut down the Toronto lineup for the remainder of his outing.
Beyond the first inning, Means allowed just one runner past first base to wind up with an impressive line of five innings, one run, four hits, three walks and seven strikeouts. Those seven punch-outs tie a career high for the West Virginia University product, whose season ERA has now been lowered to 2.60. This dude might be the real deal.
The Orioles lineup had their own rookie hurler to deal with, and they did so with a bit more success then their AL East opposition. Trent Thornton was able to work around a self-inflicted (three walks) bases loaded situation in the second inning, but had trouble once he turned the lineup over for the first time.
Anthony Santander scored the first Baltimore run of the evening, crossing the plate on a Trey Mancini double to left-center fielder with one out in the third inning. Chance Sisco added to the fun with a two-bagger of his own to drive in Mancini and give the Birds a 2-1 lead.
The O’s bats weren’t done there as they added another run to the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth inning. Jonathan Villar set the table with a two-base hit to right field, and Santander knocked him in with a bloop double of his own, where it seemed like the second baseman, Sogard, and the right fielder, Randal Grichuk, had a bit of a miscommunication.
Shawn Armstrong was the first man out of the bullpen for the Orioles and delivered his third consecutive scoreless appearance. He tossed two perfect frames in this one, striking out three Blue Jays in the process.
The baton was then passed to Miguel Castro, who looked strong through two hitters by registering a strikeout and a groundout. But he followed that up with a little wildness, walking Lourdes Gurriel Jr. on four pitches. Then a pop up behind first base, which should have probably been caught by Chris Davis, fell in for a double to score Gurriel. Just like that, out came the hook and Castro’s night was over with the O’s clinging to a 3-2 advantage.
Richard Bleier trotted out from the ‘pen to save the day and, surprisingly, there was no drama. The southpaw turned around switch-hitter Justin Smoak to the right-handed batter’s box and got him to ground out to end the threat.
An RBI-double from Villar in the eighth inning gave the O’s a bit of breathing room once again by bringing in Stevie Wilkerson, who had singled earlier in the frame, to score.
Mychal Givens was handed the ninth inning, and he handled it like a pro by sitting down the Blue Jays hitters in order with a ground-out and two strikeouts. The O’s “closer” just might have his mojo back. Huzzah!
Winning game one of this series gives the Orioles a great chance to win their first series since the end of April. They will have their first attempt on Wednesday. David Hess (1-8, 7.08 ERA) starts for the good guys. He will be opposed by former Oriole and current traitor Edwin Jackson (0-4, 11.90 ERA). First pitch is 7:05 p.m. from Camden Yards.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Tuesday, June 11, 2019?
This poll is closed
John Means (W, 5 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 3 BB, 7 SO)
Richard Bleier (Got out of Castro’s mini jam)
Anthony Santander (3 hits, 1 run, 1 RBI)
Jonathan Villar (2 doubles, 1 run, 1 RBI)