ORIOLES (24-61) AT RAYS (50-36)
7:10 p.m. ET; FS-SUN, MASN, MLB.TV
Baltimore Orioles left-hander John Means already made history in the 2019 season, but the rookie is more concerned about the present than what he has accomplished so far.
And the present right now is trying to help the Orioles salvage one game against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Means (7-4, 2.50 ERA) will take the ball for Baltimore in the finale of a three-game series with the Rays on Wednesday night in St. Petersburg, Fla., where the Orioles have lost two straight.
Baltimore has dropped three in a row overall and 16 of 19.
On Sunday, Means, 26, became the first homegrown Baltimore starting pitcher to be named to the All-Star team since Mike Mussina in 1999. He is the first Orioles rookie to be selected an All-Star since Andy Etchebarren was chosen in 1966.
Chris Tillman, a second-round draft pick by the Seattle Mariners (+1.5) in 2006, was the most recent Orioles starting pitcher to earn All-Star honors, but he was not called on to pitch in the 2013 Midsummer Classic by manager Jim Leyland.
Means has become a rock in a rocky rotation for Orioles manager Brandon Hyde.
The lefty was a longshot to make the club out of the Grapefruit League camp, but Hyde chose the Kansas native as the roster’s last pick when spring training broke in March.
“Going into spring training, I was just trying to kind of make a statement to the coaches to hopefully get a call-up at some point this year,” Means said. “I ended up kind of being the last man on the roster and started this year just trying to go out there and do my best and see what happens.”
What has happened has been impressive and a bright spot in a dark season.
Means is 1-0 in his only appearance against the Rays during his brief career, collecting the win with two innings of hitless relief in a 6-5 victory in Florida on April 18.
Now Means will make his first start against the Rays, who have won four straight, including a 6-3 victory Tuesday.
Rays All-Star Charlie Morton struck out a season-high 12 in seven strong innings. Brandon Lowe belted a first-inning homer to set the tone for Tampa Bay, then later drove in another run in a 3-for-3 night.
However, the lefty-hitting second baseman fouled two consecutive pitches off his right leg in the sixth inning. He wound up hitting a single in that at-bat, but he limped down the line and was lifted for a pinch runner.
X-rays were negative and just showed a contusion, but Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said.
“He’s going to be sore and is on crutches right now,” Cash said after the game. “We’ll probably find a lot more out (Wednesday) — how he wakes up and walks around — but I wouldn’t anticipate seeing him in the lineup (Wednesday).”
Cash said the Rays would turn to their bullpen to handle the pitching chores on Wednesday. Ryne Stanek (0-1, 2.64 ERA) is expected to get the call as the opener for the 25th time this year. The right-hander has a 2.13 ERA over 38 innings this season will filling the opener role.
–Field Level Media