After taking two out of three against Boston to end their home season, the Orioles arrived in Toronto seemingly ready to embrace the chaos. For the A.L. Wild Card race to end in a four-way tie, the Orioles need to lose to the Blue Jays. And oh, they lost. They lost so hard.
By the time my team gets to the 108 losses, they have kind of lost the ability to hurt me. But what can hurt me is to see the a player who is supposed to be one of the good ones fall apart. Today that was John Means, making his final start of the 2021 season.
Means brought a sliver of joy to an abysmal season. He threw the first no-hitter by an Oriole I’ve ever seen. As late as August 3rd his ERA was under 3.00. As bad as this team was, we could look forward to a reprieve every five days when Means took the ball. Sadly, his final start of a great season is one to forget.
The trouble started for Means immediately. With George Springer on base via a leadoff single, Vlad Guerrero did what we have all come to expect from him: he completely murdered a baseball. The ball bounced off the façade above the second deck. It was a 450-foot homer that gave the Blue Jays a 2-0 lead. It turned out that’s all the lead they’d need, but that didn’t stop them from pouring on the runs throughout the game.
Later in the inning, Teoscar Hernandez also homered. These guys hit a lot of homers. It was Vlad’s 47th of the year and number 32 for Hernandez. Means got out of the inning but it was just the beginning of his troubles.
The Orioles got back one of the runs in the top of the second when Trey Mancini doubled and came around to score thanks to a fly ball and a ground out. The 3-1 score looked respectable, but it got undone in a hurry. And Jays’ starter Alek Manoah had a very good day. That double by Mancini was the only hit he gave up.
Manoah completed seven innings with just the one run, one walk, and 10 strikeouts. He also hit Austin Hays to start the fourth inning, the struck out the side en route to retiring 12 in a row to end his game.
But back to John Means. I had hopes, and I’m sure he did too, that after his three-run first inning, he’d be able to get back on track. He did not. The dinger parade continued, with George Springer hitting his 20th home run with two runners on board. With that home run, the Blue Jays now have seven players with at least 20 home runs! And two of those have over 40.
Means gave up his seventh and final run of the game (and season) in the third inning. But first there was a lengthy delay as home plate umpire Chris Guccione had to leave the game due to a medical emergency. Per press covering the game, Guccione felt his heart racing and left for precautionary reasons. Hopefully all is well. After the long delay, during which both teams returned to their dugouts, Means was back on the mound.
Means struck out the first two batters, then Richie Martin extended the inning with a fielding error that allowed Lourdes Gurriel to reach base. Martin can’t hit and lately his defense has seemed pretty bad as well. I think this year is the last time we see him.
The error set the table for an RBI double Santiago Espinal. At least it was unearned? Danny Jansen grounded out to end the inning and put a wrap on Means’s 2021 season. He ended the game with seven runs (six earned) in three innings and a 3.62 ERA.
Means was out after three innings, but the dinger parade by the Blue Jays was not. Konner Wade pitched a scoreless fourth inning, but gave up two home runs in the fifth. Bo Bichette joined the party with a solo shot and Jansen hit a two-run homer, his 11th.
The 10-1 score after five innings would hold. Wade pitched another 0.2 innings and Spenser Watkins closed things out with 2.1 scoreless innings. He allowed just one hit. I’m not saying that’s the end of Watkins’s major league career, but if it is, it’s a nice final game to have.
Orioles lose their 109th game, doing their part to get the wild card race to chaos. The Yankees did their job as well, losing to the Rays 12-2. It’s too early as of this writing to say what will happen with the Red Sox and Mariners. Fingers crossed!