O’s game blog: Means pitches series opener (plus notes on Frederick’s All-Stars)

Coming off a 2-4 road trip to Texas and Houston, the Orioles begin a six-game homestand tonight. They host Toronto to start a three-game series, with Boston following the Blue Jays to Oriole Park starting Friday.

The Orioles (20-45) begin this series three games behind the Blue Jays (23-42) for fourth-place in the American League East. The Orioles continue to look for their first series win since April 22-24 against the Chicago White Sox. They have gone 0-12-1 in the past 13 series.

Toronto was swept over the weekend by Arizona, scoring four runs in three games. The Blue Jays are 2-11 in interleague play. Overall they have lost four in a row, 10 of 12 and 14 of the last 17 games. They have been swept in three of the last four series.

Toronto is now a season-low 19 games below the .500 mark. They have not been further below .500 since holding a 53-73 record on Aug. 23, 2002.

While the Orioles did go 5-14 against Toronto in 2018, they took two of three at Rogers Centre in April and are 6-3 in the last nine between these teams. The O’s are 9-18 in AL East games and Toronto is 6-12.

Hanser-Alberto-Celebrates-Home-Run-vs-NYY-White-Sidebar.jpgO’s infielder Hanser Alberto has hit safely in 16 of his last 22 games, with multi-hit contests in nine of those 16, including in five of his last six games. He batted leadoff and went 3-for-4 in Sunday’s loss at Houston and, in 13 games in the one-spot, is hitting .375 (21-for-56) with five extra base hits, seven runs scored, and four RBIs. Alberto is batting .384 (28-for-73) since May 20 with five doubles, one home run, five RBIs, and 11 runs scored.

On the mound tonight, lefty John Means (5-4, 2.67 ERA) faces right-hander Trent Thornton (1-4, 4.73 ERA). Over his last two starts, Means allowed two runs in 12 innings with one walk and 12 strikeouts. Means is 3-1 with a 3.13 ERA against the AL East, with both of his starts coming this season and he’s never faced Toronto.

Means comes up 4 1/3 innings short of qualifying for the AL leaders or his 2.67 ERA would rank sixth-best in the league right now.

Frederick’s All-Stars: For the first time since 2005, Single-A Frederick will host the Carolina League All-Star game. It is set for next Tuesday, June 18 at Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium. Today seven Keys were named midseason CL All-Stars.

They are pitchers Cody Sedlock, Michael Baumann, David Lebron and Steven Klimek, infielder Willy Yahn and outfielders Zach Jarrett and Cole Billingsley.

Sedlock, 23, makes his first professional All-Star team following a tremendous first half on the mound. In eight starts, the right-hander is 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA and 0.78 WHIP to go with one complete game shutout. The 23-year-old Baumann is tied for the Carolina League lead in strikeouts with 73. In 10 starts Baumann is 1-4 with a 3.86 ERA. A valuable member of both the Keys starting rotation and bullpen, Lebron, 25, is 2-0 with a 2.74 ERA in 10 games (seven starts). Klimek, 25, receives his first midseason All-Star selection as a pro. In 15 relief outings, he is 4-1 with a 1.21 ERA and is holding opponents to a .167 batting average against.

Yahn, 23, receives his second straight All-Star selection after being picked for the New York-Penn League All-Star game in 2018. In 49 games this year, he is slashing .293/.315/.440 to go with five home runs, 32 RBIs, 13 doubles and 20 runs scored. In 37 games with the Keys, Jarrett, 24, is hitting .281/.349/.437 with four home runs, 14 RBIs, nine doubles and 23 runs scored. Billingsley, 25, rounds out the Frederick All-Star roster and is slashing .339/.412/.413 with an .825 OPS to go with nine doubles, eight RBIs and 19 runs scored.

Keys manager Ryan Minor will manage the CL North squad, while he will be assisted by pitching coach Justin Lord, hitting coach Bobby Rose, development coach Adam Bleday and trainer Marty Brinker.

Win and get in: Single-A Delmarva (46-17) needs to win tonight at West Virginia to clinch first place in the first half in its division in the South Atlantic League. A win gets Delmarva its first playoff berth since 2005. Lefty Drew Rom (4-0, 1.36 ERA) gets the start.

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