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Monday Bird Droppings: Where the Orioles have an All-Star pitcher

The O’s pitching staff stinks, but John Means doesn’t. And now he’s an All-Star.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Chicago White Sox Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

If I had told you at the start of the season that the Orioles would have only one All-Star representative, you wouldn’t have been surprised. They were expected to be — and indeed are — a very bad team, with precious few stellar individual performances.

If I had told you at the start of the season that the Orioles’ one All-Star representative would be a pitcher, despite the club’s league-worst 5.73 ERA, that’s where things would get interesting. “Huh,” you might think. “Well, maybe Alex Cobb is having a good year. Or Mychal Givens.” (You poor naive soul, you.)

Now what if I had told you at the start of the season that the Orioles’ one All-Star representative would be John Means?

Mind. Blown.

Means may be the unlikeliest story on the entire All-Star team. He was practically an afterthought entering O’s camp, with even Means himself expecting to be one of the first roster cuts. But flashing a new and improved changeup, Means forced his way onto the Opening Day pitching staff, then pitched so brilliantly in relief that he moved into the rotation. He hasn’t looked back since, posting a superb 2.50 ERA in 17 games (13 starts).

And now he’s officially an AL All-Star. Not bad for a guy with all of one game of major league experience before this year.

Means is only the second O’s starting pitcher in the last two decades to make the All-Star team, along with Chris Tillman in 2013. And he’s the first rookie O’s pitcher to make it since Chuck Estrada all the way back in 1960.

Congratulations to Means, who will represent the club in Cleveland a week from tomorrow. On the flip side, it’s disappointing that the Birds’ best hitter, Trey Mancini, didn’t garner a spot on the club, although it’s still possible he could make it as an injury replacement. That would truly be wild — two Orioles on the All-Star team?

Links

Means chosen as Orioles representative for All-Star Game - School of Roch
Roch Kubatko has more about the surprise All-Star selection of Means, who apparently was hesitant to go into Brandon Hyde’s office for fear he was being sent down.

Orioles get Bieber’d; lose 2-0 to Indians - Camden Chat
The Orioles, sadly, couldn’t continue their streak of 13-0 wins, and they were the ones blanked in the series finale. Check out Stacey’s recap of yesterday's O's loss.

Soon-to-be HOFer Mussina visits Orioles - Orioles.com
It’s good to know there’s no more bad blood toward Mike Mussina for leaving for the Yankees in free agency, considering it happened 19 years ago. Now we can just appreciate him for what he was: one of the greatest pitchers in O’s history.

Pitcher Grayson Rodriguez enjoying a standout season at Delmarva - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Could Grayson Rodriguez be the next great pitcher to grace the black and orange? Or should I say, to Grayson the black and orange?

Baltimore Orioles: Hunter Harvey Finds Himself One Step Away - Birds Watcher
Speaking of promising young O’s pitchers, Hunter Harvey’s conversion to relief has been gangbusters so far, and now he’s been promoted to Triple-A. The oft-injured 2013 first-rounder could finally be Baltimore bound soon.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! You share your day with Nelson Cruz (39), the 2014 Most Valuable Oriole and MLB home run leader. It made sense at the time for the O’s to let Cruz walk as a free agent after the season, but in hindsight, it sure would’ve been nice to have him around for the last few years. He hit 163 homers in four seasons for the Mariners, and has 15 for the Twins so far in 2019. Your other O’s birthday buddy is 2007-09 lefty Jamie Walker (48).

On this day in 1982, O’s manager Earl Weaver permanently shifted his rookie third baseman, Cal Ripken Jr., to shortstop. The decision was criticized at the time. It turned out okay.

Speaking of Orioles Legends, on this date in 1967, Jim Palmer gave up a grand slam. It’s true! It happened in the minors, when Palmer was on a rehab assignment, and the culprit was fellow future Hall of Famer Johnny Bench. Palmer, of course, never gave up a grand slam in a major league game, as you might have heard him mention once or twice.

Race for the HRs allowed record (through 83 games)

Team HRs allowed 162-game pace Final season total
Team HRs allowed 162-game pace Final season total
2019 Orioles 165 322 ??
2016 Reds 144 281 258
2017 Orioles 127 248 242

The Orioles, believe it or not, just finished a three-game series in which they didn’t allow a single homer, the first time that’s happened in two years. That’s helped them temporarily slow their home runs allowed pace, though they’re still on track for a ghastly 322 after 83 games.

The MLB record holder 2016 Reds, meanwhile, had a miserable time of it in their 83rd game, giving up a whopping six homers to the Nationals. They were also no-hit until the eighth inning, so it wasn’t a great game for them. The franchise record holder 2017 Orioles, meanwhile, gave up four homers of their own in game 83 vs. the Brewers, three off Ubaldo Jimenez. Current Orioles Jonathan Villar and Keon Broxton were both in the lineup for the Brewers that day, though neither homered.