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Orioles minor league recap 7/5: Affiliates pull off a sweep, Means makes first rehab start

The Orioles’ ace was on the hill in Aberdeen, but was only their second-best pitcher of the day. Norfolk also pitched great, while Delmarva and Bowie brought the bats.

MLB: Game Two-Baltimore Orioles at Chicago White Sox
Someday soon it will be John Means Day in Baltimore again, but first he’s taking his show to Aberdeen.
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Triple-A: Norfolk Tides 2, Charlotte (White Sox) Knights 1

Pitching was the star for the Tides, who salvaged a series split with Charlotte in a one-run contest. Alexander Wells, in his first start since being optioned back from the Orioles, threw five shutout innings, giving up three hits and two walks while striking out four. Wells, the Birds’ #17 prospect per MLB Pipeline, has won his last two games — one with the O’s, one with the Tides. Four Norfolk relievers combined to allow just one run, with Dusten Knight working the final 1.1 innings for his fourth save, lowering his ERA to 1.00. I hear the Orioles could use a closer. Just saying.

The Tides offense was mostly quiet, but solo homers by Tyler Nevin (#21 prospect) and Seth Mejias-Brean, both in the second inning, provided all the run support they would need. Take out those two roundtrippers and the Tides went 1-for-28 with 14 strikeouts (including every batter in the lineup at least once) and just one walk. Jahmai Jones (#16) went 0-for-3 but drew said walk, while Yusniel Diaz (#8) took an 0-for-4 and is just 3-for-his-last-30.

Double-A: Bowie Baysox 5, Akron (Cleveland) RubberDucks 4

The Baysox were four outs away from losing their fifth straight game to Akron when they pulled off a dramatic late-inning comeback. Down 4-2 in the eighth, Robert Neustrom tied the game with a two-run homer, and in the ninth, Kyle Stowers (#22 prospect) went yard to lead Bowie to victory. Neustrom and Stowers each had two hits on the night, while #1 overall prospect Adley Rutschman went 0-for-4. Like the Tides, the Baysox were a bit overaggressive at the plate; they struck out 12 times and walked only once.

Cameron Bishop, who had been working as a bulk reliever of late, made his first start since June 1 and saw his 22-inning scoreless streak come to an end, giving up three runs. He also issued five free passes, as many as he’d allowed in his last four appearances combined. This time it was Ofelky Peralta who worked bulk relief, tossing the final four innings with just one run allowed to earn the victory.

High-A: Aberdeen IronBirds 7, Brooklyn (Mets) Cyclones 2

It’s John Means Day, y’all! Except in Aberdeen instead of Baltimore. The Orioles ace, sidelined since June 6 with a left shoulder strain, made his first rehab start for the IronBirds and looked strong but for one pitch. Means retired six of the seven batters he faced over two innings, the first two on strikeouts, but was tagged for a second-inning homer by Brooklyn second baseman Luke Ritter.

After Means’ appearance, regularly scheduled starter Garrett Stallings (#26 prospect) took over and worked the rest of the game, throwing seven sensational innings and allowing just one run on three hits. He struck out five and didn’t walk anyone. Nicely done.

Each of the first seven batters in the Aberdeen lineup had a hit, including Jordan Westburg (#6), who tripled. Leadoff man Adam Hall (#11) went 2-for-4, and Rylan Bannon (#20), rehabbing from Norfolk, socked a homer for his first hit in 18 at-bats since his return. Gunnar Henderson, the Orioles’ #5 prospect, had the day off.

Low-A: Delmarva Shorebirds 9, Lynchburg (Cleveland) Hillcats 7

The first-place Shorebirds (35-17) made it a clean sweep on the farm with an evening victory in Lynchburg, a back-and-forth contest in which Delmarva’s bats erupted for 15 hits. First baseman TT Bowens had an incredible game, reaching base six times on three hits and three walks. Third baseman Andrew Martinez contributed three hits and drove in four, and shortstop Jean Carmona, the last remnant of the 2018 Jonathan Schoop trade, went 3-for-5 with three RBIs. Delmarva drew an outstanding 13 walks.

The news wasn’t so good on the mound, where starter Zach Peek was blistered for seven runs and eight hits in 4.1 innings, striking out five. But righty Houston Roth restored order with 4.2 brilliant frames of scoreless long relief, retiring 15 of the 16 batters he faced and fanning seven. Roth has been fantastic of late, with 18 strikeouts and just one run allowed in 12.1 innings over his last three games.

Random observation: the Hillcats lineup included seven consecutive hitters whose last names end with “Z”: Martinez, Diaz, Rodriguez, Planez, another Rodriguez, Melendez, and Jerez. I feel like that has to be a record.

Complete box scores from Sunday’s games can be found here.

There are no games scheduled for Monday.