BOSTON - Orioles manager Brandon Hyde isn’t ready to name his starter for Sunday’s season finale, waiting to find out which relievers are used this afternoon.
“It could absolutely be anybody,” Hyde said.
Meanwhile, left-hander John Means is wrapping up an impressive first season that could thrust him into the voting for American League Rookie of the Year.
Means has proven to be one of the major’s better success stories at 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA and 1.127 WHIP in 150 innings.
“He’s had an outstanding year and he’s been our best starter all season long. He’s been a rock for us,” Hyde said.
“He’s given us a chance to win every five or six days and just really impressed with everything about his game. Came into the season with a no-fear attitude and attacked guys and threw a ton of strikes. He’s got that really good changeup.
“Just like to see him continue to work on his breaking ball. I think once he’s able to put guys away, especially left-handers, be able to back-foot right-handers with his slider and curveball, I think that’s his next step to him being a top pitcher in the American League. But just love his makeup. He’s been outstanding this year.”
The backstory allows Means to be a role model of sorts to the young pitchers. How he got an unexpected call last September to join the team after he returned home. How he worked hard in the offseason to increase velocity on his fastball and improve his secondary stuff - most notably the changeup.
Let that be a lesson.
“I think that there’s cool stories around the league where guys work their tails off and get an opportunity and go in it with the right attitude, with the attitude of, ‘I belong here and I’m not just happy to be here. I’m going to have success here,’ ” Hyde said.
“I just feel like John did that early on. In spring training, there were so many guys, we didn’t hardly know anybody. Just trying to get a quick look. Even though it’s six weeks, it’s still hard to really evaluate. Just kind of going off what guys did in the past couple years. I knew he had that rough outing here last September and that was pretty unfair to evaluate that. But when he broke with us, he just had the right attitude. He just wanted to get guys out and he felt like he could.
“I just think it’s a great story from a perseverance standpoint, from never being a prospect, never being on a prospect list, to being a Rookie of the Year candidate. I think it’s fantastic. I hope guys in the organization can see that and want to be the next guy.”
Astros outfielder Yordan Álvarez seems a lock to win the award, but Means is in the discussion and that’s a positive development within the club’s 107-loss season.
“It’s huge, it’s huge,” Hyde said. “And especially a young player, a player that kind of came out of nowhere a little bit that we feel like has a bright future and is going to be with us when we start becoming a competitive club and competing for a division. So I think we’ve had a bunch of good stories, to be honest with you. John’s just the story on the pitching side.”
“I just feel like there’s a lot of positives,” he said. “Our record doesn’t indicate it. You kind of knew that going in. You prepare yourself, but it’s always harder going through it. But we have some positives going into next spring training and I feel good about it.”
Hays is on the bench today. Whether he’s in the Arizona Fall League next week apparently is in question.
The plan may be altered.
“That’s a TBA like tomorrow’s starter,” Hyde said. “Maybe I’ll have both of those answers for you tomorrow. One of them for sure.
“I’m not sure what we’re doing with that yet.”
Hyde made a subtle change to the lineup, moving right Mancini from right field to left and putting DJ Stewart in right.
“I just wanted Trey to play in the shorter area of the field,” Hyde said. “Try to keep him off his feet a little bit more. It’s a little shorter run.”
Hyde doesn’t expect Santander to be in Sunday’s lineup. Santander is dealing with a couple of physical ailments.
Update: Jonathan Villar led off the top of the first inning with a double and scored on Stewart’s home run.
Update II: Xander Bogaerts hit a two-run homer off Means in the bottom of the first, J.D. Martinez followed with a homer and the Orioles trail 3-2.
Update III: Richie Martin homered in the second to tie the game.
Update IV: Renato Núñez homered in the third to give the Orioles a 4-3 lead.
Update V: The Orioles collected four runs and five hits off Andrew Cashner in the sixth to take an 8-3 lead. Austin Wynns, Martin, Villar and Mancini had RBIs.
Update VI: Sandy Leon’s bloop single off Shawn Armstrong in the sixth reduced the lead to 8-4. Branden Kline escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh.