Tonight was one of those rare nights when the Orioles had everything working for them at the same time. The starting pitching was very strong and the lineup was dominant. The Orioles tallied 21 hits and five walks en route to scoring 14 runs.
John Means was dealing in his hometown on Friday night, showing incredible pitch efficiency en-route to his 10th victory of the year. He needed only 74 pitches (51 strikes) to get through seven innings.
The Royals were first to get on the board and it was only two batters into the game for them. After leadoff man Whit Merrifield lined out to right, breakout sensation Jorge Soler launched a solo shot, his 38th home run of the year. At the start of play today, Soler had the sixth most home runs in all of baseball.
Baltimore responded quickly with a run of their own to tie the game. With one out in the second, Jonathan Villar singled and stole second. It was his 30th steal of the season. Then Pedro Severino came to the plate and drove Villar home with a single to right.
The O’s broke the game wide open against Royals’ starter Eric Skoglund in the third, scoring five runs to take a 6-1 lead. Anthony Santander cranked a three-run homer after a double by Hanser Alberto and a single by Trey Mancini. It was Santander’s 14th home run of the year.
The Alberto hit that preceded the blast was a new Oriole record for most hits by a batter against left-handed pitching in a season, 74. Rafael Palmeiro held the previous record of 73 hits. Alberto got another hit later to bring him up to 75.
But the Orioles weren’t done in the third. With one out, Villar hit a double into the right field corner and promptly stole third base. The next man up, Pedro Severino, hit a pop fly that fell into the Bermuda triangle in right center, scoring the Orioles’ fifth run.
With Severino on first, the Birds then loaded up the bases with a DJ Stewart bloop single to left and a Stevie Wilkerson HBP. Richie Martin would hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Severino but also ending the inning when Stewart was caught in a rundown between second and third.
The Royals manufactured a run in the bottom on the fourth on three hits. Hunter Dozier led things off with a double, moving to third on a single by Alex Gordon. Cheslor Cuthbert followed with an RBI single to left.
With Kyle Zimmer taking over on the mound from Skoglund in the fifth, the Orioles did not let up. There were runners on first and third after back-to-back singles by DJ Stewart and Stevie Wilkerson when Haunser Alberto hit a two-run single to center and got thrown out trying to advance to second to end the inning. 8-2, Orioles.
With one out in the seventh and Wilkerson at the plate, Villar completed one of the most exciting plays in all of baseball — he stole home plate. The Orioles’ second baseman got caught in no-man’s land off of third base and once the catcher fired the ball to the hot corner, Villar sprinted for home and beat the tag with a head first slide.
Severino, the trail runner at second, stole third on the play and Wilkerson walked. Richie Martin drove another run home on a fielder’s choice ground ball that ended in a throwing error, making everyone safe. 10-2, Orioles.
The Birds tacked on two more runs the following inning, starting with a Mancini double to left. Jace Peterson, pinch-hitting for Santander, singled to right and put runners on the corners. Renato Nunez got into the hit parade with an opposite field single against the shift and into right field. Mancini scored from third in the process. Two batters later, Severino stroked an RBI single on a hot shot off of Dozier’s glove at third. 12-2, Orioles.
It looks like the Birds are being extra cautious with John Means because he did not return to the mound after the seventh, despite having a pitch count of 74. If my math is correct, that’s an average of 10-11 pitches per inning. His final pitching line included five hits, two runs, four strikeouts and no walks.
The Orioles’ lineup was laying it on thick this particular night, so of course they kept adding on runs, even in the ninth. After loading up the bases, Nunez had an RBI single and Villar had a sacrifice fly after him. Two more runs and the score was 14-2, Orioles.
Ryan Eades finished things up behind Means, tossing two scoreless innings with one hit, one walk and two strikeouts.
A strong showing all around by the Orioles in the series opener in Kansas City. It almost makes you want to say, ‘save some for tomorrow’. But we should probably just take the good as it comes in a season like this one.
Who was the Most Birdland Player on Friday, August 30, 2019?
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