Alberto has five hits, Means goes seven as O’s rout Royals

KANSAS CITY - There was a lot to like from the offense, which set season highs for runs and hits, and the pitching, which produced the 12th outing from a starter of seven or more innings this year.

It all added up to a 14-2 Orioles rout of Kansas City in front of 16,287 at Kauffman Stadium to start a three-game series. The Orioles (45-89) have won four of their last five and six of nine games.

They didn’t get win No. 45 last year until Sept. 23.

Down 1-0 in the second after a Jorge Soler solo homer, the Orioles tied it in the second and put up five in the third to get a lead they would not give up. They were up 6-1 after the third and 8-2 after the fifth.

On the mound, lefty John Means went seven innings, allowing five hits and two runs with no walks and four strikeouts on just 74 pitches. He improved to 10-9 with an ERA of 3.55. He threw 12 pitches or less in six of his seven innings and the most he threw in any frame was 15 in the second.

The Orioles are now 11-1 when their starter goes seven or more innings and 21-12 when they get a quality start.

Means was pitching near where he grew up and pitching against his hometown team. He attended games here as a youngster. And he played at Gardner-Edgerton High School, about 40 minutes away. The Oriole were thrilled to have him back today as he was activated before the game off the family medical emergency list.

Alberto-Swings-Black-Sidebar.jpgHanser Alberto went 5-for-6 with two runs and two RBIs. He began the night needing one hit to tie Rafael Palmeiro’s single season club record of 73 hits against left-handed pitchers. He got three tonight and now holds the record with 75. The last big leaguer with 80 or more such hits was Ichiro Suzuki of Seattle in 2004.

Other notes on the offense:

* Alberto became the third Oriole this year with a five-hit game, joining Renato Núñez and Anthony Santander. The only previous time in club history the O’s had three players with five-hit games was 1974, when it was done by Tommy Davis (twice), Mark Belanger and Rich Coggins.

* The Orioles scored in six different innings and topped previous season highs of 13 runs and 18 hits.

* Pedro Severino went 4-for-6, scoring twice with three RBIs.

* Santander hit a three-run homer. Over his past four games, he is 9-for-17 with two homers and seven RBIs.

* When Royals catcher Nick Dini tried to backpick Jonathan Villar at third base in the seventh, Villar ran for home and made it for a steal of home. He had three steals for the night and has 32 for the year.

* The Orioles went 10-for-22 with runners in scoring position. In the game’s first five innings they went 12-for-23 at-bat and 5-for-10 with RISP.

Postgame quotes:

Manager Brandon Hyde on Means’ effort: “Threw seven great innings. Didn’t have his best stuff, I didn’t think, the whole game. Especially early, he didn’t have his off-speed stuff, his velo was a tick down. He didn’t have a regular work week between starts, he’s dealing with some stuff. For him to him to go out there in front of his hometown without his best stuff and throw seven great innings.”

Hyde on why Means was pulled after seven innings: “He could have gone further. He was just sitting on the bench so long with out offensive innings. ... We had so many innings when he was sitting there for a while. Couple that with not the normal week that he’s had and this guy’s dealing with some intense stuff. It’s just really cool and we’re behind him all the way.”

Hyde on Alberto’s proficiency against left-handers: “We’re lucky to have him on our club. He’s swinging the bat so well. Thrilled for Alberto.”

Alberto on setting record for hits against left-handed pitchers in a single season: “It feels pretty good. ... My dad texted me this morning that I need one more hit. He knows all this stuff.”

Alberto on his five-hit night: “I’ve been seeing the ball really good. I just go out there, not to hurry, not to do too much, just try to keep my approach. Hit the ball to the big part of the field.”

Means on his win in his hometown: “It almost felt like my debut, I had too many friends and family here. The first inning, a little butterflies, you know, in my home ballpark. But it was a cool experience. I didn’t think I’d ever make it here, to be honest with you. It was always my dream, but I was a realist as a kid: I’ll probably have to get another job. But it was really cool. The big crown in center field. I grew up (and) probably came to 200 games here in my lifetime. I’m definitely familiar with the park.”

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