NEW YORK - One pitch from John Means tonight, the first ball to leave his hand, brought evidence that the feeling of déjà vu also makes a sound.
Leadoff hitter DJ LeMahieu pulled a 91 mph fastball into the left field seats for the latest home run surrendered to the Yankees. The eighth run allowed in the first inning in three games in the series.
The only break in tradition was that it didn’t involve Gleyber Torres.
Torres was tamed for one night by his standards, settling for a single and walk, but Means fell behind by three runs after the second inning and was gone before the completion of the fourth, and the Orioles couldn’t muster much offensively against Domingo Germán in an 8-3 loss at Yankee Stadium.
The Orioles are 39-81 overall - their chances of finishing .500 don’t look promising - and 2-16 versus the Yankees.
Fifteen consecutive losses to the same opponent in a season leaves the Orioles two short of the 1954 team’s record of 17 in a row to the Indians.
Anthony Santander hit his 11th home run leading off the fourth inning to cut the lead to 3-1, but the Yankees scored four times in the bottom half. Stevie Wilkerson hit his 10th homer in the fifth, a solo shot to right-center field. Renato Núñez produced his 26th in the ninth off Adonis Rosa, making his major league debut.
Means was charged with six runs, the last scoring after Miguel Castro took over with two outs and in the fourth and Gio Urshela greeted him with an RBI double. Means allowed eight hits, walked two batters and struck out only one, and his ERA is a season-high 3.76.
Five of the first eight batters reached against Means, who’s been charged with 21 earned runs in 22 2/3 innings since the All-Star break. Torres led off the second with a walk, Didi Gregorius singled and both runners scored on Cameron Maybin’s single.
Means didn’t have his first swinging strike until LeMahieu fanned to end the inning. It came on his 44th pitch.
The LeMahieu home run in the first was delivered with authority. The ball traveled 446 feet with an exit velocity of 110.5 mph per Statcast.
Means labored again in the third with singles by Urshela and Torres. Wilkerson saved two runs with a leaping catch of Gregorius’ liner, but only after getting a late jump on the ball and having to make a hasty retreat.
Austin Romine singled with one out in the fourth and Mike Tauchman walked. LeMahieu lined to left, but Aaron Judge doubled to score two runs on Means’ 95th pitch.
Judge scored on Urshela’s double off Castro and Gary Sánchez produced his own double for a 7-1 lead.
Means hasn’t completed the fourth inning in his last three starts.
Germán allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings, striking out seven and improving his record to 16-2 with a 3.96 ERA.
Chandler Shepherd made his major league debut, the 53rd player and 36th pitcher used by the Orioles this season, and held the Yankees to one run in four innings. Tauchman had an RBI double in the fifth after a walk and wild pitch set the table.
Judge lined to center field to leave the bases loaded in the seventh.
Shepherd is only the third Oriole who hasn’t allowed a home run this season, joining Nate Karns and catcher Jesús Sucre.
The Orioles surrendered only one home run tonight, their 249th this season and 60th to the Yankees.
Hyde on Means: “I just thought tonight he never got in a rhythm. Was off tonight, just didn’t have command of really any of his pitches. The breaking balls weren’t real sharp, was up a lot in the strike zone and just wasn’t his night tonight. Like I said, never got in a rhythm.”
Hyde on whether he thinks Means is healthy: “I think he feels fine. I just think he’s having a hard time commanding the ball right now. You see a lot of just misses up in the zone. Probably a little bit mechanical. But he’s just missing up in the zone way too much and behind in the count a little bit. Having a tough time putting guys away.”
Hyde on whether league adjusting to Means: “No. I think tonight it was definitely noticeable stuff-wise was not the same and command was not the same. Had a hard time commanding the ball.”
Hyde on Means allowing homer on first pitch: “I just think that’s one pitch, it’s 1-0. That’s obviously not the tone you want to set, but I didn’t think that affected the rest of his outing. I just think from then on he wasn’t commanding the ball and he hung that breaking ball to Gregorius with two strikes. That was not characteristic. And just missing up and off the plate. We’ll try to get him back on track.”
Means on lack of command: “I didn’t have anything tonight. It’s tough to not have anything with that lineup. It’s frustrating, but I’ll come back in five days and be better.”
Means on knowing early he’d struggle: “Yeah, first pitch obviously going over the wall. There were certain mechanical issues going on throughout the game. I recognized it, but couldn’t fix it in time. It was one of those games.”
Means on comparing this start to last: “Honestly, last start I felt really, really good. I thought I made one bad pitch. This one was exactly opposite, just grinding through every single inning and you’re going to have those, especially in your rookie year. You’re just going to have to figure it out.”
Means on handling first slump: “I feel like I’m handling it well. This is the way you learn. You learn from failure, you learn from not having success. So I think I’m going to grow even more from this.”
Means on whether he’ll do anything different between starts: “I wouldn’t say I would change anything routine-wise, but just some little mechanical things in my bullpen. It’s just little things, little tweaks. But I should be fine.”
Means on how he’s feeling: “I feel really good, feel really good. I’m happy with how I feel physically. It’s just getting back to the mechanics.”
Núñez on hitting 26 home runs: “It’s been amazing. Just to be here helping the team. I’m glad that I got my 26th today and I’ll keep swinging.”
Núñez on whether he had home run goal: “I cannot say specifically I wanted to hit 30 or 40. I just wanted to have a good season and help the team however I can. If it’s defense or if it’s hitting, I just want to help the team.”
Núñez on difference from being 0-for-14 and then homering: “I think the difference was the ball just went out of the park. I feel like I’ve been putting some good swings on the ball and I kept hitting it to some guys in the field. I’ve just got to clear my mind and keep swinging. Hopefully those hits are going to come.”