Means enjoys homecoming victory over Royals

Kansas native logs 7 strong IP, backed by O's 21-hit attack

August 31st, 2019

KANSAS CITY -- In a season of special accomplishments, Orioles left-hander John Means hit another high note against the Royals on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium.

Pitching before family and friends in a ballpark where he used to hang out as a youngster, Means delivered a positive homecoming script. Means, who attended Gardner-Edgerton High School in the Kansas City suburbs, worked seven strong innings in the O’s 14-2 victory and earned the win over the team he rooted for as a kid.

It was a night of emotions for Means, who had been on the family medical emergency list since Sunday.

’My Dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a couple of weeks ago,” Means said. “So, I really wanted to see him and the coaching staff was definitely backing that. It just kind of worked out where I could come home and meet the team here.”

For Means, who made the American League All-Star team this season, it was an outing in which he said he didn’t have his best stuff. Nevertheless, he needed just 74 pitches to get through seven innings and called it a night having allowed just five hits and two runs with no walks and four strikeouts.

Means got ample offensive support as the Orioles built a 6-1 lead through three innings. Hanser Alberto logged a career-high five hits, Pedro Severino added four and Jonathan Villar had three stolen bases, including a theft of home in the seventh inning. The Orioles finished with a season-high 21 hits.

“I’m sure it was an emotional night for him,” manager Brandon Hyde said of Means. “For him to go out there and give up only two runs in seven innings. … it’s just really impressive. He’s such a composed man. I’m just really impressed with how he’s handling everything.”

Means estimated that there may have been around 100 family members and friends rooting him on at Kauffman Stadium. 

“I probably have come to 200 games here,” Means said. “I didn’t think I’d ever make it here. It was my dream, but I was a realist thinking, ‘I’d better get another job.’”

Sizzling Alberto

Three of Alberto’s five hits came against Royals starter Eric Skogland. That increased Alberto’s Major League-leading average against lefties to .417. Alberto’s 75 hits against left-handers is a club record. The last player in the Majors with more hits against southpaws in a season was Derek Jeter (78 in 2012).

“I think it’s the approach, just trying to hit the ball to all parts of the field,” Alberto said. 

Hyde continues to marvel at Alberto’s torrid hitting, as he lifted his overall average to .324.

“I don’t know what to say. He stands up there and finds outfield grass all the time,” Hyde said.