There wasn’t much offense to speak of in this game, but the performance that John Means put forward on the mound made it all worth it. His line was really good. Over 5.2 innings, the lefty allowed just one run on three hits, no walks and 12 strikeouts. But he was even better than that at points.
From the first through the third innings, Means struck out seven batters in a row, which tied an Orioles team record. The only time the Rays had a runner past second base against the southpaw came in the fourth inning, when Willy Adames hit a solo home run.
Ah, the beautiful sound of a no-doubter pic.twitter.com/hMjyu0hzIK— Tampa Bay Rays - x (@RaysBaseball) September 20, 2020
Other than that, he was dominant. For the third straight start, Means allowed just one run. In those three starts, the 2019 All-Star has lowered is season ERA from 8.10 to 5.02. It seems that he is finally over some of the on-field struggles that he dealt with early in the campaign.
Means’s recent resurgence has helped to provide clarity to the Orioles 2021 rotation. He would seem to be the likely ace once again. Behind him will probably be some combination of Alex Cobb, Dean Kremer, Keegan Akin and Jorge Lopez barring a trade. That doesn’t sound too bad, does it?
The O’s offense needed all of the help it could get, because the bats were once again quiet for the orange and black. Both of the runs they scored and three of their five hits came in the first inning.
Ryan Yarbrough tossed seven innings and gave up just a pair of runs on five hits, two walks and eight strikeouts. It was his longest outing and the most strikeouts of the season. He was good. Means was just better.
Hanser Alberto led off with a single. He moved around to third base on a single by Austin Hays. Two batters later, Renato Nunez brought them both home on a base hit of his own. Thanks to the Birds pitching, that would prove to be all they would need.
As good as Means was, the relievers that followed were just as effecitve. Dillion Tate gave up just one hit, but struck out two in an inning of work. Hunter Harvey added 1.1 perfect frames with a pair of strikeouts. And finally, Cesar Valdez recorded his second save of the season with a quick clean ninth inning.
There really wasn’t much else to discuss in this game. Both pitching staffs were, really, really good. Although you could argue this is more of the same from the Orioles hitters. They have scored two or fewer runs in three straight games, and in four or their last five.
But for today, we will chalk it up to good pitching, take the win and move on. Glass half full.
The Orioles are out of home games, so they take this show on the road to finish the season. Next up is a match with the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday. The pitching matchup is set to be Akin (1-1, 3.38 ERA) versus Nick Pivetta (0-0, 15.88 ERA). First pitch is 7:30 p.m. from Fenway Park.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Sunday, September 20th?
This poll is closed
John Means (W, 5.2 IP, 12 SO, 1 R)
O’s bullpen (3.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4 SO)
Renato Nunez (2-for-4, 2 RBI