It was 27 up, 27 down for John Means on Wednesday at Seattle.
Yet the Orioles’ left-hander didn’t throw a perfect game -- not quite. He did throw the third no-hitter of the 2021 season, but the Mariners’ Sam Haggerty reached base on a dropped third strike (ruled a wild pitch) in the third inning, before he was caught stealing. In facing the minimum, Means became the first pitcher in Major League history to throw a non-perfect no-hitter in which the opposing team did not reach base on a walk, hit-by-pitch or error, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Here are 11 more facts and stats about Means’ singular no-hitter.
- Baltimore had not had an individual pitcher throw a no-hitter since Hall of Famer Jim Palmer, also against the A’s, on Aug. 13, 1969 -- more than 50 years ago. That was the longest active drought without an individual no-hitter among current franchises. Now the Pirates have the longest such gap, as they are without an individual no-no since John Candelaria’s in 1976.
- Means had a game score of 99, the highest by any Orioles pitcher in a nine-inning game in franchise history. That record had previously belonged to Erik Bedard (July 7, 2007) and Mike Mussina (Aug. 1, 2000), who each tossed shutouts with game scores of 98.
- Means became only the eighth pitcher since at least 1901 to throw a complete game, allow no hits, walks or hit batters and strike out at least 12. Max Scherzer was the last to do it, on Oct. 3, 2015, when an error was the only thing standing in the way of a 17-strikeout perfect game against the Mets. The others to reach each of those marks: Clayton Kershaw (2014), Félix Hernández (2012), Matt Cain (2012), Randy Johnson (2004), Sandy Koufax (1965) and Nap Rucker (1908).
- Means was the 12th pitcher since at least 1901 to face 27 batters (the minimum) in a nine-inning no-hitter without throwing a perfect game. The last to do it was the Marlins’ Edinson Vólquez on June 3, 2017, against Arizona. Vólquez walked two batters in that game but erased both on double plays.
- One way to throw a no-hitter? Get ahead in the count. Means excelled at that, throwing only one ball out of 27 pitches in 0-0 counts That’s a 96.3% first-pitch strike rate. Only one pitcher since 2000 has faced at least 25 batters in a game and had a higher first-pitch strike rate: Brad Radke of the Twins on June 30, 2004 (96.4% -- 27 of 28).
- Means got 26 swinging strikes, the most by an Orioles pitcher in a game since the pitch-tracking era began in 2008. The previous record was held by Kevin Gausman, who recorded 25 swinging strikes against the White Sox on May 22, 2018. Means’ biggest weapon was his changeup, which induced 14 swinging strikes on 24 swings (58.3%). The 14 changeup whiffs were a career high for Means and the most by any pitcher since Toronto’s Hyun Jin Ryu had 14 last Aug. 5.
- This was new territory for Means in more ways than one. Coming into the day, he had made 43 Major League starts and had never thrown a complete game. In fact, he had never recorded an out beyond the seventh inning of any MLB start. His 113 pitches also set a new career high.
- This was the fifth no-hitter in Seattle, all of them coming since 2012 and accounting for 14% of the MLB total during that span. That's also the most of any stadium in that time period (Citi Field is second with three). The previous one in Seattle also featured the Orioles, but that time, Baltimore was on the losing end, against the Mariners’ Hisashi Iwakuma on Aug. 12, 2015. Four of those five, including Means’, have come in day games. (In addition to the no-hitters by Means and Iwakuma, that group includes the perfect games by Félix Hernández on Aug. 15, 2012, and the White Sox's Phillip Humber on April 21, 2012. The combined no-no the Mariners threw there against the Dodgers on June 8, 2012, was at night).
- This was the sixth time the Mariners have been no-hit in franchise history, but only the second time at home, along with Humber's perfecto. Three of those previous no-hitters against the Mariners were combined efforts. The only other individual pitchers to no-hit Seattle were Humber and the Yankees’ Dwight Gooden (May 14, 1996).
- This is the fourth no-hitter thrown on May 5, and the second by an Orioles/Browns pitcher. Ernie Koob threw one for the club when they were the Browns in 1917. Bo Belinsky also threw a May 5 no-hitter for the Angels in 1962, and Cy Young for the Red Sox in 1904.