Orioles lose to Rangers, 1-0, in 10 innings after John Means’ dominance, base-running misfortune

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Nathan Ruiz, The Baltimore Sun
·3 min read
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Orioles left-hander John Means got back to his scoreless ways Sunday, but so did Texas Rangers right-hander Kyle Gibson as Baltimore missed a chance for a sweep, falling 1-0 in 10 innings.

The Orioles (7-9) began the top half of the inning with Maikel Franco placed at second base, per the league’s extra-inning rule. He moved to third when Ryan Mountcastle was denied extra bases on a diving catch by left fielder Willie Calhoun. Franco initially went back to the bag on pinch-hitter Trey Mancini’s line drive into right, thinking the ball might be caught, but it reached right fielder Adolis García on one hop for a single. His throw home easily caught Franco, and manager Brandon Hyde argued to no avail for an obstruction call against catcher José Trevino.

Needing only a run to win, the Rangers tried to bunt their automatic runner, Charlie Culberson, to third, but right-hander Travis Lakins Sr. fielded Eli White’s bunt and threw to Franco at third for a fielder’s choice. Lakins struggled with his command from there; White moved to second on a wild pitch, eventually scoring the winning run on Nate Lowe’s single to left with the bases loaded.

After allowing more than a run for the first time in seven starts in his most recent outing, Means worked seven shutout innings. He began dominantly, striking out the side around a one-out single in the first inning and adding three more punchouts while retiring the Rangers in order in the second and third.

But Texas mostly kept him out in the stretch from there, getting the leadoff batter on in each of the next three frames. An inning-opening error from Franco simply meant extra pitches.

Trevino hopped on Means’ second pitch of the fifth for a leadoff double, then went to third on a groundball, staying there when White worked a nine-pitch walk. But neither runner advanced farther, with Means collecting his seventh strikeout before a first-pitch lineout to center ended the threat.

Nick Solak led off the sixth with an infield single but was erased trying to steal second. Lowe then walked, but Means got a pair of grounders to complete the sixth.

He returned for the seventh, adding two more strikeouts to lower his ERA to 1.52 on 96 pitches. In three road starts, he has allowed one earned run in 18 1/4 u2153 innings.

Quiet Sunday

Cedric Mullins opened the day with a chopper to third base against Gibson, with a replay review holding up an out call on a close play at first. It set the tone for the afternoon.

Anthony Santander followed up with a double into right field, but Gibson retired the next six Orioles and pitched with a runner in scoring position only one time afterward. He used his sinker effectively, getting 10 outs on the ground while retiring the leadoff batter in all eight of his innings. He stuck out six Orioles and walked none.

Firing Fry

After right-hander Adam Plutko replaced Means for the eighth and allowed two of the first three Rangers to reach, Hyde turned to left-hander Paul Fry.

Like Means, Fry showed increased velocity in 2020, raising his average fastball velocity by 2 mph to 92.8 mph, per MLB’s Statcast data. In stranding both of Plutko’s runners, Fry threw a 95.6 mph fastball to García, the hardest pitch of his career, before getting an inning-ending flyout on a 94.7 mph fastball. He struck out David Dahl on three pitches to open the ninth before giving way to César Valdez, who retired the next two to send it to extras.

This story will be updated.

ORIOLES@MARLINS

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