John Means was strong against Boston, plus farm notes

As the Orioles are looking for some solid starting pitching - they don’t have a quality start over their last 11 games - John Means provided an encouraging outing on Sunday at Boston.

Means went five innings, allowing four hits and one run with one walk and three strikeouts in Boston’s 4-0 win. He took the loss and is now 1-2 but has a 1.98 ERA over five outings. In 13 2/3 innings on the season, he has walked four and fanned 13.

Means-Throws-Gray-Sidebar.jpgMeans threw 82 pitches Sunday, averaging 91.5 mph on his 50 four-seam fastballs, which topped at 93. He threw 22 more effective changeups. He showed poise. When the Red Sox put runners on first and third with one out in the second inning, he got a fly out and double-play grounder to put up a zero. In the fourth, when the Red Sox led off with a single and double to put runners on second and third with no outs, he held them to one run. Damage was minimized and poise was on display.

“He’s very even-keeled guy,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “I don’t see him getting rattled by a tough environment. I like his composure, like a lot of our guys. I think guys tend to sometimes raise their game up when there is an adverse environment and a lot of people. That doesn’t seem to bother John at all.”

During a season when the Orioles may see their losses pile up, fans may look for positives to take from a game that ends with the Birds on the short end of the score. Yesterday, Means’ outing provided that. His start to this year is encouraging. He is a pitcher who flew under the radar on the farm and was never a top-30 prospect for the O’s. In this story I recently talked with Means about that.

On a day when the Orioles could not build on any momentum generated in Saturday’s 9-5 win, Means was outstanding, and I’m sure the Orioles want to see more out of this left-hander moving forward.

On the farm: One day after they scored seven runs in the ninth to beat Lakewood, Single-A Delmarva came from behind to beat them again on Sunday. Down 5-2 in the sixth, the first-place Shorebirds rallied for a 6-5 win. Cadyn Grenier’s RBI single in the seventh broke a 5-5 tie as Delmarva improved to 8-1 with its sixth straight win.

Will Robertson went 2-for-4 and hit a three-run homer. After starter Nick Vespi allowed five runs in four innings, right-hander Tyler Joyner (2-0) got the win in relief. He threw three scoreless innings but allowed two inherited runners to score. Tim Naughton recorded his second save.

Triple-A Norfolk shut out Toledo 3-0 on a combined four-hitter from Yefry Ramirez, Jay Flaa and Luis Gonzalez. Ramirez allowed two hits over five scoreless on 71 pitches. He has now thrown nine scoreless innings on the year. Flaa fired three hitless innings and Gonzalez allowed two hits in the ninth but recorded the save. Mason Williams produced two sac flies for the 3-8 Tides and catcher Carlos Pérez went 2-for-3. Ryan Mountcastle went hitless and is batting .231.

Double-A Bowie beat Harrisburg 5-4 in 12 innings. Shortstop Jesmuel Valentín singled in the winning run for Bowie’s first walk-off victory of the year. Bowie forced extra innings when Ademar Rifaela hit an opposite-field homer in the ninth to produce a 3-3 tie. Austin Wynns had a two-run double for the Baysox, who snapped a four-game losing streak and are 3-7.

Lefty starter Zac Lowther allowed three hits and two runs over four innings with five walks and two strikeouts. He has a 2.00 ERA through two starts. Lefty Brian Gonzalez retired 12 of 13 batters, allowing one run in four innings. Lefty Tyler Erwin picked up the win. The Bowie bullpen pitched to a 1.61 ERA during the four-game series.

Single-A Frederick was rained out Sunday at Salem. The clubs will make up that game during a doubleheader on June 14.

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