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Tuesday night Orioles game thread: vs. Cardinals, 6:35

John Means is back, y’all.

Baltimore Orioles Photo Day
This is not a drill: it’s John Means Day.
Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time in nearly 17 months, Orioles fans can proudly proclaim: it’s John Means Day.

It’s felt like an eternity that the O’s have been without their one-time ace, who left early from his second start of the 2022 season with an arm injury that ultimately required Tommy John surgery. But after a long and arduous road to recovery, Means is back on the O’s roster and ready to make his much-anticipated return to the Camden Yards mound tonight.

This isn’t just some token, feel-good, let-him-make-a-couple-starts-for-kicks-and-giggles type of appearance for Means. To the contrary, Means could very well play a hugely important role for the Orioles down the stretch and beyond. The O’s currently have at least one gaping hole in their potential October rotation, and if Means can resemble the hurler who dominated opposing hitters from 2019-2021, he’ll provide a huge boon to the staff.

We certainly can’t count on it, of course. Coming back from Tommy John is no joke, and it often takes pitchers a bit of time to regain their previous form, if they ever do. It’s best to temper our expectations for Means, who is unlikely to go out and throw his second no-hitter. His fastball velocity reportedly is down a tick or two from what it was before the injury, and he didn’t throw more than 86 pitches in any of his six rehab starts. The O’s would likely be content with a solid, four- or five-inning outing from Means tonight.

Either way, it’s exciting to have him back! For so many years, Means was the best part of some terrible Orioles teams. Now he finally gets the chance to play for a legitimately great one.

Orioles lineup:

DH Adley Rutschman
SS Gunnar Henderson
RF Anthony Santander
1B Ryan O’Hearn
CF Cedric Mullins
LF Austin Hays
2B Adam Frazier
3B Jordan Westburg
C James McCann

LHP John Means

Cardinals lineup:

RF Lars Nootbaar
CF Tommy Edman
1B Paul Goldschmidt
3B Nolan Arenado
C Willson Contreras
LF Tyler O’Neill
2B Nolan Gorman
DH Jordan Walker
SS Masyn Winn

RHP Adam Wainwright