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Means holds his own on big stage at Fenway

@jessicacamerato
April 14, 2019

BOSTON -- For someone just kicking off his Major League career, John Means already is getting acclimated quickly with Fenway Park. The left-hander made his big league debut out of the bullpen last season on Sept. 26 at the historic ballpark. On Sunday, he returned to that same pitching mound,

BOSTON -- For someone just kicking off his Major League career, John Means already is getting acclimated quickly with Fenway Park.

The left-hander made his big league debut out of the bullpen last season on Sept. 26 at the historic ballpark. On Sunday, he returned to that same pitching mound, this time as a starter looking for his second win of the season.

“Means was really good,” O's manager Brandon Hyde said. “He gave us a chance to win.”

It was no easy matchup for Means. He faced off against veteran David Price, who has recorded a win in his last 10 decisions at Fenway.

Means held his own over five innings, his longest Major League outing. He held Boston scoreless through the first three innings and concluded his day with three strikeouts, four hits, one walk and just one run in Baltimore's 4-0 loss. He also retired the side of the order in the fifth inning.

“He kept us off-balance, just like Price [did to the Orioles],” Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts said. “He was good with his off-speed, obviously establishing his fastball early on, I would say. In some hitter counts, he would throw some off-speed, which I think got a lot of us off-balance.”

It was a turnaround performance after allowing five runs in the second inning of his last start on April 9 against the Athletics.

Means threw 47 of his 82 pitches for strikes. He was happy with his changeup and wanted to have better location. Hyde praised his tempo and fastball.

“I like his aggressiveness,” Hyde said. “Today he dumped a few breaking balls in for strikes, too, which he hadn’t done. That’s something he’s going to continue to improve on and be another weapon for him to have that third pitch.”

The box score only tells so much about Means’ outing. He didn’t get shaken pitching on center stage at Fenway Park in front of 36,023 fans.

“He’s very even-keeled guy,” Hyde said. “I don’t see him getting rattled by a tough environment. I like his composure, like a lot of our guys. I think guys tend to sometimes raise their game up when there is an adverse environment and a lot of people. … That doesn’t seem to bother John at all.”

So how does the 25-year-old pitcher stay unfazed? He keeps the moment in perspective.

“All those years in the Minor Leagues where I was just grinding all the way up, and now that I’m here, the last thing you want to do is get rattled,” he said. “It doesn’t help you at all.”

Means felt a sense of security coming into Fenway as a starter on Sunday compared to last season as a call-up. He has pitched in the starting rotation and out of the bullpen this season and is willing to step in wherever the Orioles needs him. But when he does get the start, expect him to embrace the opportunity.

“I just want that role of being able to do whatever they ask me to do,” Means said. “I come to the field ready to go at all times. I do like starting. It’s what I’ve always done. It’s very comfortable.”

Jessica Camerato is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Boston. Follow her on Twitter @jessicacamerato.