The Orioles went into this game looking for their fourth straight win. They did not get it. They not only lost the game, but they lost their ace pitcher, John Means. Means had to exit the game with after just facing five batters, all in the first inning. This is scary news but we don’t yet know how bad it will end up being.
Not long after Means exited the game, the Orioles have announced that Means has left shoulder fatigue. This isn’t the first time that he has faced this, as he missed the start of the 2020 season with something similar. You may remember that when Means returned from that stint on the IL, he wasn’t himself for a number of starts after that.
We’ll have to wait and see what this means for both Means and the Orioles for the rest of the season. In his postgame interview, Means said that it feels the same as issues he has dealt with in other years and that it’s not major or serious, but that he can’t predict when he’ll be back and ready to go. Brandon Hyde stated that Means will get some tests tomorrow to see what’s what. Heal quickly, John!
Before he left the game, Means was having his troubles. His velocity was fine, the rest of it not so much. He threw nine pitches to leadoff batter Cesar Hernandez, who took him deep for a home run to center field. After retiring the next two batters, Harold Ramirez also hit a home run to put the Orioles in a 2-0 hole. The next batter singled, after which Means was visited first by pitching coach Chris Holt, then the trainers, who pulled him from the game. Noooooo!
Means’s replacement, Adam Plutko, looked competent initially but it all fell apart in the third inning when he gave up five runs. Only one of those runs was earned due to a Stevie Wilkerson error at second base, but don’t let Plutko off the hook. Sure, Stevie lost Plutko an out and allowed an extra baserunner, but that was the second batter of the inning and Plutko went on to give up three more singles and a three-run homer. It wasn’t great. In the span of a few minutes the game went from competitive to garbage time.
Following Plutko in the game were Travis Lakins (2 IP, 1 R), Cesar Valdez (2.1 IP, 1 R), and Dillon Tate (2 IP, 1 R). None of them was great, none of them was terrible. I’m actually not ready to declare Tate a garbage time pitcher yet, he has only been back from the IL since May 27th. He could redeem himself. That’s the opposite of former closer Valdez, whose dead fish pitch doesn’t fool as many guys as it used to.
When you give up 10 runs, it’s unlikely that your offense will be able to do enough to overcome, and that was the case today. But the story of the O’s offense today was definitely Cedric Mullins, who continues to dazzle. When the score was just 2-0 in the first inning, Mullins singled and then, after moving up on another single by Trey Mancini, scored on a single from Freddy Galvis. The Orioles couldn’t get either of those runners in unfortunately.
In his next two at bats, in the third and fifth innings, Mullins launched his seventh and eighth home runs of the season. Amazing! He also singled in the seventh inning, and came up one last time in the ninth inning looking for a five hit game. And he got it, with another single. A five hit game! And it’s the second time this season he’s done that.
That’s not to mention yet another web gem:
Boyce Cedric Mullins II is batting .305 and can do this in the outfield. pic.twitter.com/PnNwtAyxky— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) June 5, 2021
The only run the Orioles scored in which Mullins was not involved came in the sixth inning when Ryan Mountcastle hit his third home run in as any games. The solo shot cut Cleveland’s lead at the time to (LOL) five runs. It was part of a two-hit game for Mountcastle. Galvis also had two hits in the game, both singles.
For those who don’t give up hope until the very end, the Orioles gave them one last chance to be disappointed in the eighth inning. Anthony Santander and Galvis singled to start the inning, and then Mountcastle was hit by a pitch to load the bases. If you were watching, you may have thought to yourself, “a home run here and we’re right back in this!” I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that as long as you knew it wouldn’t really happen. And it didn’t.
DJ Stewart struck out. Maikel Franco popped out. Wilkerson grounded out. And that was that.
The Orioles can still win this series if they can take care of business tomorrow. Game time with 1:05 with Jorge López on the mound for the Orioles. See you then!