Maybe it’s time to starting worrying that the post-All Star Game version of John Means is a better representation of the rookie’s ability than what we saw from him prior to the Midsummer Classic.
The very first pitch that Means threw in this game would be a harbinger of unfortunate events to come. DJ Lemahieu smacked a 91 mph fastball in the middle of the plate over the left-center fence for an early 1-0 lead over the visiting Orioles.
Means’s second inning started no better. Gleyber Torres led off with a walk and then moved to third on a Didi Gregorius double. Each of them then crossed the plate on a Cameron Maybin single. Just like that, the Yankees had scored three runs and recorded just three outs.
The O’s did draw a bit nearer in the fourth inning on an Anthony Santander solo shot to open the frame. It was Santander’s 11th home run of the season as the outfielder continues to swing a hot stick.
But New York ended any thoughts of a comeback by putting up a four spot in the bottom of the fourth. Austin Romine and Mike Tauchman reached base on a one-out single and walk, respectively. Two batters later they both scored on an Aaron Judge double, which knocked Means from the game in favor of Miguel Castro. Judge crossed the plate moments later on a Gio Urshela base hit. And Gary Sanchez capped off the inning with an RBI single of his own. By the end of the inning it was 7-1 Yankees.
Means was responsible for six of those runs. Over 3.2 innings, the lefty allowed eight hits, one home run, two walks and one strikeout. He just wasn’t missing bats. The changeup that was fooling batters earlier in the season seemed to have little impact this time. His season ERA now sits at 3.76.
Back to the bright side for one moment: the O’s did go a little homer happy in this loss. Stevie Wilkerson contributed a solo homer in the fifth inning, his 10th of the year, to close the gap a bit.
But of course, these are the Yankees, so we can’t have nice things. They took that one run back immediately in the bottom of the inning. Maybin walked, moved to second on a wild pitch and then to third on a fly out before scoring on a Tauchman double.
That would be the end of New York’s scoring on the night, and the only run they would scrape across against Chandler Shepherd, who made his MLB debut in this game.
The 26-year-old Shepherd certainly seemed to have some butterflies in that first inning, but he composed himself and put together a nice outing in which he worked around a few jams. Over four innings, the righty allowed a run on five hits, three walks and two strikeouts. He had runners in scoring position three times, and yet he only gave up the one run. That’s a bit lucky but also a bit impressive.
The final Orioles run came in garbage time as Renato Nunez went deep for the 26th time in the top of the ninth inning. Just like Santander and Wilkerson before him, there were no runners on board when Nunez left the park.
The loss marks the 15th straight defeat for the Orioles at the hands of the Yankees, which is a pretty big bummer. Sure, the Yanks are the best team in baseball, but it would be cool to beat them once in a while. Hey, maybe they will do just that tomorrow!
The O’s will attempt to avoid a sweep tomorrow as they send Dylan Bundy (5-12, 5.04 ERA) to the mound to face lefty J.A. Happ (9-7, 5.48 ERA). First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m.