Orioles use two big innings and solid start from Means to defeat Mariners 9-2 (updated)

John Means hadn’t faced the Mariners before tonight since throwing the sixth no-hitter in Orioles history back in 2021. Dylan Moore pulled his first pitch down the left-field line for a double.

Even the mere hint of a repeat wasn’t happening.

Jordan Westburg belted a leadoff home run Wednesday in his first career game atop the order, and Gunnar Henderson did the same tonight after returning to it.

A much more reasonable replication.

The Orioles inflicted damage over and over against Bryce Miller. The first six batters reached against him and the first five scored. Nine came to the plate. And Means found his rhythm.

The early outburst carried the Orioles to a 9-2 victory before an announced crowd of 38,882 at Camden Yards, ensuring that the sweepless streak in the regular season would stretch to 106 series.

"Nice to see the offense really swing the bat well tonight," said manager Brandon Hyde. "We took a lot of really good at-bats in the first inning."

"It's unbelievable," Means said. "Give one in the top and then get five in the bottom. You can't ask for anything more than that, and I just wanted to go out there, have that shutdown inning in the second and try to get on a roll."

Means allowed two runs over six innings to earn his first win in Baltimore since April 25, 2021, and the Orioles improved to 28-14.

"He's battled through a lot and dealt with a lot of adversity," Hyde said. "He was here kind of from the start and to see his way through. I know these are big starts for him because he had a lot of time off and he's really taking advantage and I know he's appreciative and we're appreciative to have him out there."

Means had no idea that so much time passed between Camden Yards victories.

"That feels pretty good," he said. "Just feels twice as good to get a win."

The Orioles didn’t score in the next five innings, but Jorge Mateo and Henderson began the seventh with back-to-back triples, Adley Rutschman doubled and Austin Hays delivered a pinch-hit double. Hays raced home on a wild pitch for a 9-2 lead.

Henderson’s 13th home run put him in a tie with the Astro’s Kyle Tucker for the major league lead. Tonight marked the eighth time in Orioles history that they produced leadoff homers in back-to-back games, per STATS, and the first by two different players since Pete Stanicek and Ken Gerhart in June 1988.

Melvin Mora was the last before tonight in June 2002. Brady Anderson did it both games of an Aug. 21, 1999 doubleheader and in four straight games from April 18-21,1996. Al Bumbry hit consecutive leadoff homers in August 1982.

"It's just trying to get the offense going," said Henderson, the first Oriole with at least 13 home runs in the first 42 games since Manny Machado in 2018. "Really nice to be able to do it early and get that first one out of the way. Just seemed like the offense was clicking tonight."

Rutschman and Ryan O’Hearn followed Henderson tonight with singles, and the Orioles led 2-1 after Moore fielded Ryan Mountcastle’s chopper and threw past second base. Anthony Santander walked and Colton Cowser ripped a two-run double to right field.

Jordan Westburg lined to center at 103.3 mph for a 5-1 lead.

Cowser also singled in the sixth and walked in the seventh, and he’s showing signs of heating up again.

Miller threw 32 pitches in the first inning. He retired nine in a row before Kyle Stowers singled to right field, the outfielder’s first major league hit since May 3, 2023.

Means, making his third start since his reinstatement from the injured list, allowed a run in the first on Mitch Garver’s RBI single. Mitch Haniger singled with two outs, but Means retired 12 of 13 before Moore launched an 89.6 mph fastball over the left field wall with two outs in the fifth.

The Mariners were retired in order in the sixth to leave Means at 95 pitches and his ERA at 3.06. He surrendered six hits, walked none and struck out four.

"I thought Means battled," Hyde said. "Early there he didn't really have his fastball command, but I thought the breaking balls and the changeup got him out of a lot of trouble. Got him some outs. I didn't think he had his best fastball tonight, didn't have his best fastball command tonight, but that changeup is so good and throwing the slurve, he dumped some curveballs in and kept them off-balance that way."

Means hasn't walked a batter in his three starts.

"It's kind of my MO, I throw strikes and they know it," he said. "Obviously, first-pitch double down the line. Probably need to be a little more out of the zone sometimes, but yeah, obviously you never want to give a free base."

Miller got another chance to face Westburg, his former high school teammate who went 0-for-2 against him last season in Seattle. They homered off each other as 12-year-olds in a Little League game in 2011.

“I like Bryce a lot,” Westburg said this afternoon. “It’s been fun watching his career, the evolution of him as a pitcher. Obviously, he’s off to a spectacular start this year, so I’d love to have some success off him. He got me last. But it’s going to be fun.

“The game of baseball’s always cool. It’s just such a small group, a small community. To have these matchups, you can’t help but like smile, just enjoy it. Whether it’s good or bad, it’s still fun.”

The playful verbal sparring was kept to a minimum.

“No, I’m not a big trash talker,” Westburg said with a laugh. “He’s certainly not. And if he is, it wasn’t to my face.

“There might be some trash talk at the end of the night depending on who does what, but none before.”

Westburg grounded out in the fourth and was at the plate with one out in the sixth when manager Scott Servais removed Miller.

Center fielder Julio Rodríguez made a leaping catch at the center field fence in the sixth to rob Santander of a home run. Mateo led off the seventh with a triple against Cody Bolton and Henderson greeted Kirby Snead with a shot into the 90-degree angle in left-center. Henderson scored on Rutschman’s double and Hays improved to 2-for-2 with two doubles since leaving the injured list.

Watch out if that guy’s heating up, too.

Henderson knew immediately that he had his fourth triple.

"That's like triples alley out there. The wall's forever away," he said.

Asked about the back-to-back triples, Hyde said, "Great athletes. It's really fun to watch both of those guys run. Mateo's ball, that's not a triple for 99 percent of the league. Just the way he can run. Lucky to have two unbelievable athletes like that."

Yennier Cano inherited two runners from Jacob Webb with one out in the seventh and Moore grounded into a 6-3 double play.

The third-largest crowd of the season took it all in, erupting with the fireworks after the final out.

"Incredible energy in the ballpark," Hyde said. "A really, really cool Friday night crowd."

"It was awesome," Means said. "It's incredible to see Camden Yards like this. This is such a special place, they're such special people, and to see this crowd now compared to what it was in April 2021, whenever that game was, it's good to see. It's fun. The energy, everybody feeds off it."

* Connor Norby returned to Triple-A Norfolk’s lineup tonight and had three hits, including two doubles. Billy Cook doubled twice and had two RBIs.

Tucker Davidson started and tossed three scoreless innings. Dillon Tate had a scoreless seventh inning to leave his ERA at 3.60.

Double-A Bowie’s Max Wagner was removed from the game as a precaution after being hit in the face by a ground ball.

Frederick Bencosme and Dylan Beavers hit back-to-back homers in the eighth inning. Samuel Basallo, leading off and playing first base, singled twice.

Seth Johnson allowed one unearned run and three hits in four innings and lowered his ERA to 3.97. Carlos Tavera followed with four scoreless innings, one hit allowed and six strikeouts.

Enrique Bradfield Jr. singled, doubled and tripled for High-A Aberdeen, and he stole his 18th base. Creed Willems hit his ninth home run.

Single-A Delmarva’s Riley Cooper allowed one run in five innings in Game 1 of a doubleheader in Single-A Lynchburg. Braxton Bragg tossed four scoreless innings in Game 2.

The Shorebirds split, losing 4-0 and winning 1-0.

More leftovers for breakfast
O's game blog: John Means faces the Mariners in th...

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