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Tuesday, December 06, 2022

John Means makes an early exit with a tight left-hand forearm in the Orioles’ 4-2 loss to the Brewers; ace to get more tests on thursday

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Even as the Orioles returned to the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday before falling again late, the focus would be on that fourth inning when left-hander John Means was on the mound before an unofficial departure that swept across Baltimore. Will take away the worry.

Means cruised through the fourth inning, needing just 12 pitches in order for the side to retire. But in the middle of the home half of that innings, right-hander Joey Krehbiel popped into the bullpen, despite the mean sitting on 51 pitches.

And when the fifth inning opened, Krehbiel was replacing Means on the Mound after Baltimore’s most reliable starter allowed two runs in the second start of the season. Means withdrew when he felt left arm stiffness, the team announced, a troublesome update for a team with little stability and solid starting pitching in some places.

Without a mean, the Orioles’ bullpen once again held its own and the offense picked up momentum. But as the Orioles tied the game at 2 with a pair of runs at the bottom of the eighth inning, the Brewers responded with two in the ninth, leaving Milwaukee with a 4-2 win and a series win.

The score was secondary for the Orioles, however, as Means pulled out early this season, marking the team’s fifth loss in six games. At least outwardly, Means was not overly concerned with the early departure. He said he experienced a similar tightness during Friday’s season opener against the Tampa Bay Rays, which stemmed from a curveball before spreading to the rest of his Arsenal.

In Wednesday’s third inning, another curveball again gripped the forearm, something he said he had never done before in his career.

“I felt it throughout the week, but it got progressively better throughout the week and then felt great in the first two innings,” Means said. “And then felt it on a pitch and felt it and battling through it. But it wasn’t tingling fingers or anything like that. It was just the front. ,

The Means will undergo further testing on Thursday, when the Orioles have a day before the New York Yankees’ three-game series kicks off at Camden Yards. The 28-year-old ace said he would get an MRI “at some point in the next day”, just to make sure there are no major issues in the game. He expects to be thrown back in the next few days, casting doubt on the mound’s immediate return.

“I won’t rush into anything until we know what the results are, to know what the results will be tomorrow,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “Staying positive with it and being optimistic and hopefully that’s a little bit of tightness that they felt in the foreground and we’ll see.”

Means was expected to surpass what he would produce on his first start, when he needed 84 pitches through four frames. Given the short spring training build time, Hyde has been wary of pushing his starting pitcher too long.

There was no clear sign of injury or lack of stamina and Means retired his last seven batsmen. According to MLB Statcast, Means’ average fastball was 92.8 mph against the Rays last week and dropped to 91.6 on Wednesday.

Means worked fast in the first innings of the action, but second baseman Kesten Hiura ran into trouble in the second with a one-out walk, leaving a fastball completely out of the zone. With two outs, Means hung a slider on the plate, and first baseman Rowdy Tellez blasted it into the deepest part of center field to drive in the first half of the game.

And then third baseman Mike Broseau raised his career tally to 6-for-12 against Means with seven RBIs when his single drove home Telles, who also had an RBI double in ninth. But Means settled in from there, needing nine pitches to retire the side in the third and 12 pitches in the fourth, even as the tightrope began.

Any absence for the Means would dislodge Baltimore’s rotation. When Means missed nearly two months last season with a left shoulder strain, the remaining members of the rotation posted a 7.63 ERA.

“It’s disappointing, for sure,” Means said. “Want to roll and start the season strong. It’s a long season and we’ll get it out of the way, keep going. Still believe I am able to go. ,

strikeout pile

Catcher Anthony Bemboom singled out in the third inning and took second on a wooded pitch, leading to a break against right-hander Corbin Burns. But center fielder Cedric Mullins took off and was dismissed by first baseman Ryan Mountcastle, continuing a formidable streak to start the season.

Mountcastle’s swing and miss became the Orioles’ 26th of 28 strikeouts this season with runners in the scoring position. Strikeouts 27 and 28 came from Mullins and Ramon Ureas, who came to the plate to give the eighth-placed Orioles the edge.

The team has been hitting 5-for-55 this season in situations with more than half of all batsmen ending up in strikeouts.

“We’re getting a little worried,” said Urius.

But strikeouts go beyond situations with runners in the scoring position. Entering Wednesday, the 10th worst rate in baseball, according to MLB StatCast, no MLB team more than Baltimore had hit the ball with more than a 28.4% chase rate on balls out of the zone.

And by Wednesday’s finale, the Orioles had been dismissed 68 times in six games. The previous record for most strikeouts by a team in the first six games of the season came last year, when Baltimore was dismissed 77 times.

base coach missing

First base coach Anthony Sanders and third base coach Tony Mansolino missed the game due to illness, Hyde called the pregame. Wednesday marked the second straight game that Sanders had missed. He was replaced by Jose Hernandez in first and Freddie Gonzalez in third.

Hyde declined to elaborate on the ailments, citing club policy.

one return and one departure

As the Orioles dealt with concerns about Means’ injury, the two prospects faced different courses at Triple-A Norfolk.

Outfielder Usniel Diaz joined the injured list on Wednesday night with a hamstring strain, the latest in a series of injuries that have kept Diaz from finding his way into the big leagues. Earlier this month, Diaz said through a team interpreter that he was “trying to manage health,” but sprained his hamstrings as he ran from the line to first base.

Diaz has suffered multiple lower-body injuries since arriving in 2018 as part of a Manny Machado trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

For outfielder Kyle Stowers, however, a return to game action came eight days after injuring his hand on a hit from the pitch during Wednesday’s Triple-A season opener. According to Baseball America, Stowers is the Orioles’ No. 7 prospect.

In his return to the Triple-A lineup, Stowers finished 1-for-3 with a double, an RBI, and two walks.

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