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Means hurt by the long ball in series opener

Pitcher cites changeup for struggles; Davis hot since hitless streak
@Russ_Dorsey1
April 30, 2019

CHICAGO -- For Orioles rookie southpaw John Means, each start is going to be a learning experience, but the lesson he learned in Baltimore’s 5-3 defeat to the White Sox is one that will benefit both him and the Orioles going forward. Means dominated the White Sox last week in

CHICAGO -- For Orioles rookie southpaw John Means, each start is going to be a learning experience, but the lesson he learned in Baltimore’s 5-3 defeat to the White Sox is one that will benefit both him and the Orioles going forward.

Means dominated the White Sox last week in his third career start in Baltimore on April 24. His changeup was both sharp and effective and yielded weak contact against him. His start Monday went a little bit differently.

While he faced the same team he shut down just five days ago, it was the first time in Means’ brief career he’s faced a lineup twice, and it showed.

“It’s not easy to do,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “To be able to wrap around a series and see the guys you just saw five or six days ago. I thought he did a nice job without his best changeup. I think the changeup has been really good up until this point.”

The White Sox were aggressive against him early and made harder contact than the last time they faced him. Yonder Alonso jumped on a 1-0 fastball for a two-run home run in the second inning, and Tim Anderson took a changeup left over the plate for a two-run homer in the third.

It was also the 73rd home run allowed by Baltimore pitching this season, which is the most in baseball.

Means has had success this season with his changeup (.135 batting average against) and has been able to use the fastball effectively off of it.

The average exit velocity against Means’ fastball hovered around 90.3 mph in his last start, but jumped to 99.2 mph during Monday’s start. Without the effective changeup, which he’s had during the early portion of 2019, it made the fastball a much more appealing pitch to hit.

“I didn’t have my best changeup today,” Means said. “I was throwing some good ones down in the zone that they weren’t offering at and tried to make too much of an adjustment and left some up. Made some bad pitches and they made me pay for it.”

Despite the four runs early, Means did remain relatively unscathed the rest of the way. He finished the game going five innings with four earned runs allowed on six hits. The left-hander also struck out two and walked one batter.

“He worked through five innings without his best changeup and I liked the curveball development,” Hyde said. “If we didn’t have a long inning offensively in the fifth, he would have gone out for the sixth. He gave us a chance and kept us in the game like he always does.”

“As a starter, you want to get into the sixth and seventh [innings] and that’s something I’d like to take pride in,” Means said. “Those long innings get you. I was excited to go back out, but a long inning, in the cold, they didn’t want me to go back out.”

With Means now a member of the Orioles’ starting rotation, Monday’s test against the White Sox should prove to be a valuable learning opportunity going forward.

Worth noting

First baseman Chris Davis finished the game 2-for-4 and is now 12-for-35 (.343) since his 0-for-49 hitless streak came to an end on April 13. Davis drove in Dwight Smith Jr. in the sixth and eighth innings to account for two of his team's three runs.

Russell Dorsey is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @Russ_Dorsey1.