Back in the city where he’s employed and no longer mingling with All-Stars, Orioles left-hander John Means can be certain that he’s going to pitch tonight. The manager won’t withhold him in case he’s needed in extra innings.
Means is returning to a normal routine that includes plenty of games against the Rays.
Today marks his third appearance, his first half closing with two earned runs allowed (three total) in seven innings that matched his career high and lowered his ERA to 2.50.
Means’ last bullpen outing came against the Rays on April 18 at Tropicana Field, and his two scoreless innings earned him a win after the 11th. He finally gets them at home today as a full-time starter.
Aaron Brooks makes his Orioles debut in Game 1, and his first major league start since April 30. He tossed two scoreless relief innings on June 23 in his only career appearance against the Rays.
Right-handed hitters have slashed .315/.373/.534 against him and left-handers have slashed .284/.344/.505.
David Hess will be recalled from Triple-A Norfolk as the 26th man.
As I wrote yesterday, Brooks will be the 15th pitcher to start for the Orioles this season to eclipse the 2018 total. He’ll also become the 32nd Oriole to pitch, two more than the club record set last summer, according to STATS.
* Trey Mancini didn’t tune into the All-Star Game, but it wasn’t because of the snub.
“I watched the Home Run Derby but I didn’t watch the game at all,” he said. “It’s not because of everything that happened, either. If you’re not there, a lot of times you just want to get away for a few days. That’s how I’ve always been.
“I’ve watched the game in years past, but I had family in town, so I was hanging with them the whole time and taking them around Baltimore and doing some different things, so it was a really nice break.”
Mancini said the rest made him feel rejuvenated going into last night’s game.
“I think it’s always a good thing,” he said. “Last year I really used it as a time to almost do some soul-searching, I’d say, as everybody knows. This year I just kind of got away from it, didn’t really do much thinking or anything like that.
“It’s just nice to get away for a few days. We’re all so lucky to do what we do, and we all love what we do, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need a break sometimes. It was nice to just hang with some family and chill out for a few days.”
Mancini hadn’t gone hitless in three consecutive games until the series in Toronto that concluded the first half. He went 0-for-10 with three walks and a run scored.
The second half began last night with Mancini lining to center field and striking out twice to lower his average to .288.
“I think it was just kind of a coincidence, I guess,” he said of the hitless series at Rogers Centre. “I think I only struck out once, in the last game, and I just couldn’t get a hit in there. I had some good at-bats. I was just missing a lot of pitches. I fouled more pitches off that series than I think I ever have.”
Mancini consulted with hitting coach Don Long and made what he described as “a slight adjustment” in his last at-bat.
“He noticed something,” Mancini said. “It was kind of the first time all year that we’ve really talked about a physical adjustment. It’s not that big of a secret. I had opened up slightly this year, but it had kind of been getting more and more, so whenever I was stepping I was still kind of landing open and it was making my lower half fly open a little bit. I’m just trying to square up again.
“Even if I’m slightly closed off at the plate it’s not a big deal. We talked about that. So that’s the only adjustment I’ve been trying to make, and I think that was leading me to missing some pitches I could have hit.”
Shameless plug alert: I’m appearing on “O’s Xtra,” which airs at 6:30 p.m. on MASN.