This, that and the other

The Orioles finally can hand the ball to John Means again when he’s reinstated from the injured list Tuesday in St. Petersburg, Fla.

It’s only been, like, seven weeks.

His bullpen session Saturday afternoon in Kansas City proved that his left shoulder is sound. Forget the numbers on his rehab assignment - five earned runs and seven total with 11 hits in eight innings. How he’s feeling physically is most important, along with the Orioles stretching him out to where they don’t need to put him on a short leash against the Rays.

Of course, they’ll need to find the longer leash among all the equipment. It’s been collecting dust somewhere, as useful as a Christmas wreath in July.

The Orioles are itching to make a transaction. They haven’t optioned a player since pitcher Zac Lowther on July 8.

Means went on his rehab assignment. Rookie-level Dominican League pitcher Hugo Beltran was acquired in a trade with the Dodgers. Jorge López went on the bereavement list and was reinstated. Draft picks and non-drafted free agents signed contracts. But no one was optioned.

Whose turn is it?

Removing a position player brings back the three-man bench. Manager Brandon Hyde likes having the extra flexibility to pinch-hit, pinch-run or upgrade the defense in the late innings. But he always can use a ninth reliever with his starters making brief cameos.

Vulnerable pitchers include Shaun Anderson and Thomas Eshelman, who could be optioned if removed from the rotation. Hyde mentioned rookie Keegan Akin as a possibility for Wednesday afternoon’s start.

“It’s definitely a day-by-day decision,” Hyde said yesterday on his Zoom call with the media. “Off-days play into that, where we are. Our bullpen’s good one day and it’s beat up the next, so I think we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. If we think we can keep the extra position player or not.

“Fortunately, we do have an off-day after the Tampa series and then another off-day soon after that, so that will be a part of the decision making. But, yeah, it’s always nice to have an extra player on the bench. It’s a big deal and to be able to run for a guy, be able to defend, to be able to pinch-hit, those type of things to try to win a game or stay in a game, it’s nice to have that luxury. So we’ll see.”

* Matt Harvey was able to complete six innings yesterday for the second time as an Oriole, making the day more special by shutting out the Royals.

Thumbnail image for Wynns-Throws-Orange-sidebar.jpgApparently, backup catcher Austin Wynns had a hunch.

“He came up to me earlier today and said, ‘We’re going six today,’ ” Harvey recalled. “I guess he had a good feeling.”

I’m going with hunch.

“He said he knew what we needed to do and we went over a couple things, but really the big thing today was I just trusted him,” Harvey said. “There were a few times where we just kind of went through signs just to go through signs and get in the hitter’s head a little bit. But everything he did, we were pretty much on the same page the whole day and it was fun throwing to him.”

Wynns was an unsung hero for his walk, RBI double, run scored, two loud outs and ability to snag a foul tip for a strikeout in the ninth - and how he managed to catch it with his mitt turn that way is beyond me. He makes an obvious difference behind the plate.

Harvey is the first former Royal to win a start as a visitor at Kauffman Stadium since Zack Greinke on Sept. 14, 2019 with the Astros.

“It seems like every outing, there’s a stretch like there was today,” Harvey said. “I think there were some innings I’d go out and be dominant and throw two, three innings of really good baseball and then all of a sudden the wheels fall off. Having games like today, obviously, is a big confidence booster knowing that it’s still in there.”

Austin Hays obviously knows how much Harvey has struggled and how often he lays heavy blame on himself. Teammates were happy for his success.

“It was awesome,” Hays said. “I’m glad we were able to get him a little bit of run support early. I know that makes it a lot easier on your starting pitcher. And then that bases-loaded jam he was able to get out of was great to see. This was a great start for him and I’m glad we were able to put some offense up behind him.”

* The Orioles shut out the Royals for the first time since Aug. 2, 2017 in Baltimore and the first time in Kansas City since May 16, 2014.

The win improved the Orioles to 4-1 in series-deciding games, including 2-0 on the road. Yesterday was their first rubber game win at Kauffman Stadium since July 27, 2006.

The Orioles won consecutive games without hitting a home run for the second time this year. They took three in a row to begin the season in Boston.

* Random stat from Saturday night: Trey Mancini’s triple was the Orioles’ first since Cedric Mullins on June 1, snapping a 35-game drought, their longest since going 39 games from June 23-Aug. 8, 2018.

I doubt that it’s been a hot topic in team meetings.

Mancini hadn’t tripled since June 12, 2019 against the Blue Jays’ Derek Law, a career-long 175-game three-bag dry spell.

Speed isn’t one of Mancini’s tools, but he has 10 triples in the majors and tied for the Big East lead with seven as a junior at Notre Dame.

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