With ace lefty John Means on the mound today, the Orioles certainly felt like they had a good shot to end a losing streak. And Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera, sitting on 499 homers, sat out, waiting to play his next game at home on Friday.
But the Detroit Tigers didn’t need any longballs from Cabrera today.
They hit three off Means without him, building an early 5-2 lead and went on to beat the Orioles 6-4 on a sweltering afternoon at Camden Yards. The Orioles (38-75) capped a homestand by going 0-6 and their losing streak reached eight games. The Orioles now have had three losing streaks on the year of eight or more games.
The day started well for Means and it looked like he could be on his way to pitching the Orioles to a win.
He got the first six in order on 26 pitches and was at 40 through three scoreless innings. He was helped out in the third when first baseman Trey Mancini threw out Victor Reyes trying to go first to third on a bloop hit to short right.
But in the fourth inning, the roof caved in on Means and the Orioles.
Trailing 1-0, Jonathan Schoop drew a leadoff walk and scored the tying run on Jeimer Candelario’s double to left. After a groundout, former Oriole Renato Núñez hit a first-pitch Means changeup just over the wall in left-center for a 3-1 lead. Nunez hit No. 3 a distance of 361 feet. Willi Castro then reached on an infield hit and scored ahead of a two-run homer by Reyes that hit high up on the left field foul pole. That was No. 3 for Reyes on a 91 mph 1-0 fastball for a 5-1 lead. The Tigers scored five runs in a span of six batters.
Means would allow his third homer in a span of six batters when Robbie Grossman led off the sixth with a solo shot. He hit No. 18 for a 6-1 lead. One out later, Means gave up a triple to Candelario to end his day as right-hander Marcos Diplán came on. Diplán would strand two runners to keep the O’s down 6-2 at that point.
Means allowed a career-high-tying six runs and a season-high three home runs. He went 4 1/3 innings, his second-shortest outing of the year, allowing eight hits and six runs with one walk and three strikeouts. Means falls to 5-4 with an ERA of 3.21 and threw 79 pitches. He had last yielded six runs in a start on Aug. 13, 2019 at the New York Yankees. This was the third time he gave up six in a game.
Means has had some issues giving up homers this year. This was the eighth time in 17 starts he has allowed two or more and he did that for the sixth time in his past nine starts. Coming into this outing, 13 of his 17 homers allowed on the year were solo shots, but today just one of three was.
Means’ fastball velocity was a bit down today. His average velocity was 92.8 mph on the year before this outing and it was 91.4 mph today at Oriole Park. The two homers allowed on a fastballs this afternoon were at 91 and 90 mph.
The Orioles pulled off a double steal in the last of the first to take a 1-0 lead on Tigers right-hander Matt Manning. Cedric Mullins led off the inning with a single to right to extend his hitting streak to a career-best 19 games. Then he moved to second on Austin Hays’ single, which gave him a 10-game streak. A lineout and grounder left the runners on first and third. With DJ Stewart batting, Anthony Santander broke for second base and then held up as the Tigers got him in a rundown. Mullins broke home from third base and beat a high throw from Núñez to score with his 22nd stolen base and a steal of home.
The Orioles’ next two runs came off the bat of Stewart on solo homers. He hit No. 9 in the fourth to cut Detroit’s lead to 5-2 and No. 10 in the sixth to cut the lead to 6-3. On Tuesday, Stewart hit his first homer since June 19 and today he produced his second career two-homer day. The first was last Sept. 5 against the New York Yankees.
O’s batters have hit 33 homers the last 19 games and 30 of them have been solo shots.
The Orioles bullpen threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings today to keep them in the game, as Diplán, Tanner Scott, Cole Sulser and Tyler Wells kept Detroit from doing further damage and the four allowed just two hits.
The Orioles stranded two runners in the ninth and went 0-for-23 in the series with runners in scoring position.
Detroit (57-60) completed a three-game sweep and Manning got the win, allowing eight hits and three runs over six innings. Detroit improved to 17-9 in the second half and to 28-18 since June 19.
The Orioles fell to 17-37 at home and now hit the road for a two-city, seven-game road trip to Boston and St. Petersburg, Fla., that begins Friday night at Fenway Park.