Means throws strong game, offense backs him in 11-2 romp

After giving up a season-high six runs and three homers in his first post All-Star Game start, Orioles left-hander John Means was looking to get back on the horse tonight.

He did. He had a strong ride against a good offense, pitching the Orioles past Boston 11-2 in the series opener at Camden Yards. It didn’t hurt his cause that the O’s offense produced a second straight strong game.

Means produced a pre-All-Star Game ERA of 2.50, the best ever by an Orioles rookie. If there was concern the league may be catching up to him after the Tampa Bay game, tonight may have proved we need to rethink that.

Means-Fires-Black-Sidebar.jpgMeans allowed four hits and two runs over six innings, with two walks and one strikeout on 102 pitches. He improved to 8-5 with an ERA of 2.95, allowing two runs or fewer for the 11th time in 17 starts. In 12 home games, he is now 6-2 with a 2.56 ERA.

And he did this versus a Boston team that began this series winners of nine of 13 and with a 19-10 record in the last 29. The Red Sox started the night leading the majors in runs per game (5.64), average (.273) and OBP (.347), and they had hit 31 homers the past 18 games. Boston was also 14-2 in its last 16 road games.

When Anthony Santander smoked a David Price fastball 415 feet to right-center in the first, it scored three for a 3-0 lead and Baltimore would not trail in this game. It was No. 5 for Santander on a 93 mph fastball.

But Boston quickly pulled within 3-2 on Sam Travis’ two-run homer in the second. And it looked like it would be anything but an easy night for Means.

And while it surely was not easy, he didn’t allow another run. He got out a jam getting some tough hitters in the top of the fifth while holding a 6-2 lead. Boston had two on and the top of the order up with one down and designs on getting back in this game. But Means got Mookie Betts to pop up on the ninth pitch of the at-bat and then got Rafael Devers - who has 73 RBIs, two off the league lead - to pop out as well.

It was a solid outing by the Orioles All-Star lefty and provided Means his sixth quality start of the year and the team its 24th.

The O’s added on to their early 3-2 lead. In the second, Richie Martin lined a ball off the base of the right field wall and circled the bases for a 4-2 lead. It was ruled triple and E-9 as right fielder J.D. Martinez could not come up with the ball cleanly.

Keon Broxton’s two-run homer in the fourth off Price made it a 6-2 lead. He hit No. 3 a distance of 407 feet. It was Broxton’s first homer since June 4, 74 plate appearances ago.

The O’s got two in the fifth for an 8-2 lead on Stevie Wilkerson’s sac fly and Martin’s grounder. They added three in the seventh with two scoring on Jonathan Villar’s single and one an error.

Before the O’s beat the Nationals 9-2 on Wednesday, they had scored 13 runs the last six games. Now they have 20 runs in two games.

Price falls to 7-3 with an ERA of 3.61. He gave up six runs and eight hits over four innings. The six earned runs allowed tonight is one less then he gave up over his past five starts in 27 innings. And the two homers he allowed matched the total homers allowed his previous 10 starts.

Price was 8-1 with an ERA of 2.65 since 2016 with Boston against Baltimore. And in his career at Camden Yards, he was 8-0 with an ERA of 2.72.

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