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Orioles use Means' outstanding start, six-run ninth inning to power past Rays 9-6

Givens makes #SCTop10-worthy play before rally

July 04, 2019 - 12:07 am
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By Jake McDonnell 

It got interesting late, but the Orioles defeated the Rays 9-6 on Wednesday night behind a six-run ninth inning and a seven-inning start from recent All-Star Game electee John Means. 

In his final live action before embarking to Cleveland for All-Star festivities, Means tied his longest start of 2019, which came May 6 against the Red Sox. Means threw 98 pitches, 71 for strikes, and gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits and five strikeouts. 

“He went seven innings and did not walk a batter,” manager Brandon Hyde said after the game. “He proved why he’s an All-Star pitcher tonight, like he does every time out practically. Set the tone for us, we gave them a run early, Johnny comes back, just did a really good job pitching ahead all night long.”

The first Rays scoring play came in the third inning when Joey Wendle scored due to a fielding error by Rio Ruiz at third base. Travis d’Arnaud hit a ball to Ruiz, who’s throw fell under the glove of Hanser Alberto at second base and rolled into the outfield. Ruiz rebounded a half inning later with a three-run homer, his fifth of the year, to give Baltimore a 3-1 lead. 

The Rays added two runs before Means’ exit, including the first home run of infielder Michael Brosseau’s career, a solo shot in the bottom of the fourth. Even without earning the win, Means going seven frames tonight and Andrew Cashner doing the same on Saturday against the Indians is giving Hyde some much-needed length from his pitching staff.

Before the ninth inning craziness ensued, Mychal Givens made a SportsCenter Top 10-worthy play for Baltimore’s second out of the eighth. With a runner on third and one away, Yandy Diaz hit a ground ball back to Givens. Kevin Kiermaier, who pinch-ran for d’Arnaud, came racing home and was tagged by Givens on the back just a few feet from the plate. Givens needed a moment to catch his breath after landing stomach-first on the Tropicana Field turf, but he recovered and finished the frame. 

“That was a really athletic play, obviously,” Hyde said. “Comes off the mound, and he’s just a really athletic guy. Drafted as a shortstop, so we like to have the ball in his hands. I wouldn’t have minded him flipping the ball to the catcher there and stay out of it, obviously we need him. But it was a good play.” 

The Orioles batted around in the top of the ninth, scoring six runs on a combination of small ball, Rays defensive miscues, and some power. Anthony Santander walked to begin the inning, went to second on a Ruiz sacrifice bunt, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a fielder’s choice. Then Jonathan Villar notched his second triple of the season to score Pedro Severino from first. 

Following another fielder’s choice-gone-wrong that scored Villar and put Trey Mancini on second, Chance Sisco singled to put runners on the corners. It was here that Renato Nunez blasted his team-leading 19th home run to left field to pad Baltimore with a six-run lead. 

Richard Bleier entered the ninth inning with a 9-3 advantage, but exited after surrendering three runs with two outs recorded. With runners on first and third, Hyde called on Shawn Armstrong, who struck out Tommy Pham on a 94-MPH fastball for his second save of the season. 

The Orioles, now 25-61, snap a three-game losing streak, but Tampa Bay takes the series 2-1. Before the All-Star break takes place next week, the Birds will enjoy a Thursday off day before heading to Toronto for a three-game weekend series with the 33-54 Blue Jays. Friday’s game has a 7:07 start time, and the pitching matchup is Dylan Bundy (3-10, 4.91 ERA) vs. Aaron Sanchez (3-11, 6.31 ERA). 

Down on the Farm: Center-fielder Zach Watson, who the Orioles took in the third round of June’s Amateur Draft with the 79th-overall pick, hit his first home run as a professional baseball player tonight as the Aberdeen IronBirds bested the Connecticut Tigers (DET) 4-0. 

Late-round selections Ian Evans (2018) and Toby Welk (2019) added RBi singles in the effort, and four Aberdeen pitchers combined for 11 strikeouts. 2017 pick Adam Stauffer started the contest, tossing four scoreless frames with six strikeouts.