O’s game blog: John Means faces Mets in series opener

Orioles lefty John Means was stacking up good start after good start, and just when it seemed it would be hard for the next one to top the last one, he pitched a no-hitter.

Coming off his 12-strikeout no-hitter last Wednesday at Seattle, Means (4-0, 1.37 ERA) is back on the mound tonight at Citi Field as the Orioles begin a two-game series with the first-place New York Mets.

Means pitched the O’s first no-hitter since four pitchers (Bob Milacki, Mike Flanagan, Mark Williamson, Gregg Olson) combined for one on July 13, 1991, and the team’s first individual no-hitter since Jim Palmer on Aug. 13, 1969. He became the first left-handed pitcher to throw an individual no-hitter in Orioles history. And his outing snapped the longest active drought by a team without an individual no-hitter among current major league franchises.

Means-Hugs-After-No-Hitter-Sidebar.jpgMeans takes the mound tonight second in the American League and third in the majors in ERA. He is the AL leader and second the majors in batting average against at .135. He is first in the AL and second in the big leagues in WHIP at 0.67.

How he will approach his first start since the no-hitter?

“You know, I was just happy that last start went well,” he said yesterday after being named American League Player of the Week. “That’s kind of what I strive to (do): I just try to have a good start every five days. I don’t really look at it as some big milestone and that was the peak of my mountain. I just try to stay as even-keel as possible and I just want to go out there and have another quality start and give my team a chance to win.”

More on Means:

* He has allowed three, two, three and zero hits his last four starts. That is eight hits in 29 1/3 innings for a batting average against of .084 in that span (8-for-95). In those four games, he is 3-1 with a 0.92 ERA.

* Means has recorded five quality starts on the year and four in a row. He has gone seven innings or more four times, including in three of his last four starts.

* On the road he is 3-0 with an ERA of 0.78.

* Over his last 11 starts dating to 2020, Means is 6-1 with a 1.42 ERA and has allowed one run or none nine times. In that span, over 69 2/3 innings, he has allowed 33 hits and 13 walks with 80 strikeouts.

* His 2.4 WAR for pitchers leads the majors, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

Lefty batters are hitting .114 with a .384 OPS against him and right-handers are batting .140/.435.

If you want to know why all teams are concerned with monitoring pitcher innings this year, Means surpassed his 2020 total during the no-hitter. He pitched 43 2/3 innings last season and is now at 46.

Tonight his mound opponent is right-hander Marcus Stroman (3-3, 2.12 ERA). Over six starts he has thrown 34 innings, allowing 28 hits, including three homers with seven walks and 29 strikeouts. He has a WHIP of 1.029 and averages 1.9 walks per nine and 7.7 strikeouts. The Mets are 3-3 in his outings.

A former Toronto Blue Jay, Stroman is 3-3 with a 3.36 ERA and 1.293 WHIP in 13 career games against Baltimore. O’s batters have hit .283/.320/.403/.724 against him.

The Orioles (16-19) are 11-6 on the road and are 4-1-1 in road series. They are 5-1 in road series-opening games. They have posted a winning record on all three of their road trips, going 4-2, 4-2 and 3-2.

The Orioles have posted a 3.11 ERA in their 17 road games, the lowest road ERA in the AL and the second-lowest in the majors, behind Milwaukee at 3.05. The O’s own a plus-16 run differential on the road, and at home they have a minus-29 run differential.

The Mets (16-13) are in first in the National League East, leading Philadelphia by one game and Atlanta by 1 1/2 games. The Mets have won a season-high five straight games. The Mets have not won six straight since they won eight in a row from Aug. 3-10, 2019. New York is 7-2 its last nine games.

The Mets rank second in the majors in team ERA at 3.00, behind only San Diego at 2.89. Their rotation ERA is 2.97, and their bullpen ERA is 3.04.

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