Orioles manager Brandon Hyde arrived at the ballpark today knowing that a victory didn’t really matter in the grander scheme. His team clinched the division title last night. It already established home-field advantage in the playoffs.
The original lineup was missing Anthony Santander and Gunnar Henderson to let them rest. Adley Rutschman and Ramón Urías were scratched due to being “under the weather,” per the club.
The Orioles could coast and not get hurt, but Hyde didn’t expect them to roll over.
“I still want to play well, you know? I want to play to win,” he said.
“Last night was special, and so today you reflect a little bit in the morning and still have a job to do tonight. Want to play well in front of our home fans.”
John Means tossed 6 2/3 hitless innings last weekend in Cleveland and wanted the Baltimore crowd to watch his next flirtation with history. He retired the first 13 batters before Rob Refsnyder pulled a fastball down the left field line for a double in the fifth inning. Trevor Story launched a changeup 413 feet to left field to break up the shutout bid.
Hyde had to settle for no one getting hurt.
Nick Pivetta blanked the Orioles for seven innings while holding them to two hits, and a Red Sox team that also had nothing at stake won 3-0 before an announced crowd of 28,192 at Camden Yards.
Means allowed two runs and three hits in 6 1/3 innings, walking none and striking out four. Hyde removed him at 82 pitches, and Refsnyder grounded into a double play against Jorge López.
"Felt like I was in control, locating the fastball and changeup well," Means said. "The breaking stuff was good enough. Felt pretty good."
López struck out two in a scoreless eighth, but Shintaro Fujinami allowed a run in the ninth.
Ceddanne Rafaela had a leadoff walk, advanced on a stolen base and throwing error by catcher James McCann and scored on Rafael Devers’ tapper to the mound. Fujinami flipped the ball to McCann and Rafaela beat the tag.
Justin Turner doubled to put runners on second and third base with no outs, but Fujinami dodged further harm with an assist from first baseman Ryan Mountcastle, who made a nice stop of Story’s sharp grounder that knocked him on his back.
The Orioles are 100-60 with two games remaining before the Division Series. They’ve been shut out nine times.
They hadn’t allowed more than one run in their previous five games.
In his last three starts since leaving the 60-day injured list, Means has been charged with only four earned runs and eight hits over 18 2/3 innings.
"I feel like the command's there," he said. "Make a mistake tonight and a mistake last time, but other than that I feel like 99 percent of my pitches are where I want them.
"I feel like I've gotten better as I went."
Means recorded his outs via strikeout, popup or fly ball until Devers grounded to second baseman Adam Frazier during a 10-pitch at-bat in the fourth. Turner also grounded to Frazier to complete the inning.
Adam Duvall began the fifth with another grounder to Frazier but Means finally buckled. Austin Hays made a diving catch in left field to rob Bobby Dalbec and get Means back into the dugout at 63 pitches.
Story ended Boston’s 23-inning scoreless streak with his third homer of the season.
"Good swing on a bad changeup," Means said.
"They were really aggressive early in the count and he got a lot of early-count outs there, especially the first third of the game," Hyde said. "He had a really good changeup again and I thought he located his fastball well."
Pivetta held the Orioles to one hit through 4 1/3 innings, Mountcastle’s infield single in the first. Jordan Westburg, who replaced Urías at third base, doubled to left field in the fifth and the next two batters struck out.
"He's got really good stuff," Hyde said. "We didn't take very many good at-bats and didn't hit many balls hard on him."
Thirteen batters in a row were retired before Mountcastle singled with two outs in the ninth.
The final strikeout total was 10 with Pivetta on the mound, and 12 overall.
"It was a big night for us last night and we just didn't play our best baseball today, and those things happen," Hyde said. "Hopefully, we'll rebound and play a better game tomorrow."
Rutschman and Urías aren't expected to stay under the weather much longer. They could be in Saturday's lineup or available to play.
"Probably, yeah," Hyde said.
* Hall of Famer Jim Palmer was honored before the game for his 60 years in the organization.
Former teammates who stood on the field with him included Cal Ripken Jr., Boog Powell, Tippy Martinez, Ken Singleton, Al Bumbry, John Stefero and Tim Nordbrook. Taped messages from Rick Dempsey, Scott McGregor and Bobby Grich were played on the video board.
Palmer walked out of the dugout wearing a City Connect jersey, leaving the MASN booth, and addressed a crowd that stood and cheered him.
“Sixty years. Boy, am I old,” he said.
The club donated $60,000 to Pathfinders For Autism - $10,000 for each decade. Daughters Jamie and Kelly walked to the mound for hugs.
Palmer threw the ceremonial first pitch to Bumbry.