O’s game blog: John Means faces the Yankees

The Orioles pitched one shutout last year during the shortened 60-game season. Thanks to lefty John Means, they matched that total on opening day. Tonight the left-hander will try to pitch Baltimore to a win in the final game of the series at Yankee Stadium.

New York has posted 7-0 and 7-2 wins to begin the series. They’ve won 12 in a row over the Birds at Yankee Stadium and could sweep the series tonight. The Orioles were an out away from back-to-back shutouts when Rio Ruiz hit a two-run homer in the ninth last night.

O’s batters are 11-for-65 (.169), scoring two runs in the series. They got four hits Monday night and seven last night. They are 0-for-6 in the series with runners in scoring position and have struck out 27 times. O’s pitchers allowed just six walks and five runs in three games at Boston. They have allowed 12 walks and 14 runs in New York over the two games.

Only two baserunners reached against Means on Friday in Boston, and one got there on an error. He went seven innings, allowing only a leadoff single in the first inning, with no walks and five strikeouts. He retired the last 18 Red Sox batters he faced and Boston went 1-for-22 against him. Tanner Scott pitched the eighth and César Valdez the ninth to complete a three-pitcher two-hitter on opening day.

Thumbnail image for Means-Throws-Gray-at-Mets-Sidebar.jpgMeans threw 97 pitches, 65 for strikes. He threw 49 percent four-seam fastballs, which averaged 91.7 mph, per Statcast, and topped out at 93.3. He used his changeup 31 percent and curveball 17 percent.

After ending the 2020 season pitching to a 1.52 ERA his last four starts, Means added to those great numbers in his opening day assignment. Over his past five starts, he is 3-1 with a 1.17 ERA. In 30 2/3 innings he has allowed 13 hits with three walks to 35 strikeouts.

Means is 1-2 with a 7.17 ERA in seven career games with four starts versus the Yankees. He’s allowed 17 earned runs and five home runs over 21 1/3 innings. He pitched against New York during his strong four-start finish to last season, allowing one run over six innings on Sept. 13 at Yankee Stadium.

Right-hander Jameson Taillon will make his Yankees debut tonight. Taillon last pitched in the majors on May 1, 2019. Later that season he had Tommy John surgery and he missed all of last season.

He was taken with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. The Orioles had the No. 3 pick that June and loved two players - Taillon and Manny Machado - at that spot. They were going to be delighted to get whichever player Pittsburgh did not pick at No. 2. The Pirates drafted Taillon and the O’s nabbed Machado.

Before his surgery in 2019, Taillon went 2-3 with a 4.10 ERA in seven starts for Pittsburgh. In 82 career games, all starts, his record is 29-24 with a 3.67 ERA and 1.247 WHIP. For his career, he has allowed 9.0 hits per nine innings and 0.9 homers with a 2.3 walk rate and 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings.

In the 2019 season he used his fastball 47 percent at an average velocity of 94.8 mph. He threw his slider 31 percent, his curveball 16 percent and his changeup six percent.

Taillon has never faced the Orioles.

O’s batters have a 31.4 strikeout rate through five games, tied for the AL lead. The Orioles are last in the AL in isolated power (.079) and last with just one homer. Houston has hit 12 and the Los Angeles Angels have already homered nine times.

O’s pitchers rank 12th in the league in strikeout rate at 8.37 per nine innings. They rank seventh in averaging 3.77 walks and seventh in homer rate at 1.05 per nine innings.

This afternoon, the Boston Red Sox beat Tampa Bay 9-2 to complete a three-game sweep. Since the Orioles left Fenway Park, they have not won and Boston has not lost. The Red Sox scored five runs in three games against the Orioles and scored 26 as they swept Tampa Bay. Now Boston will head to Baltimore and serve as the O’s opponent Thursday for their home opener.

Tampa Bay had been 12-1 at Fenway Park the last two years, but starts 2021 there going 0-3.

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