NEW YORK — When John Means starts, it generally represents the Orioles’ best chance to win in a given turn through their rotation.
But despite another strong performance from their ace left-hander Friday night at Yankee Stadium, a 4-3 loss in 11 innings to the New York Yankees meant the Orioles have not won with Means on the mound since July 31, a six-start span.
After the Orioles (41-92) failed to capitalize on the runner automatically at second base in their half of the second extra inning, Giancarlo Stanton scored New York’s with a single up the middle to lead off the bottom of the 11th off Dillon Tate.
“I thought it was just a really good baseball game, and we lost on the road in extra innings on a groundball single,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “Really happy with how we pitched. For me, it was just a good baseball game. It’s tough to win on the road in extra innings and we didn’t score there on the top of the 11th, which opened the door for them, and a groundball single beat us.”
New York’s first hit came when Stanton took Means deep with two outs in the fourth, and the Yankees doubled their lead an inning later. But Baltimore answered with solo shots in each of their next turns at-bat. Nestor Cortes Jr., a former Orioles Rule 5 draftee, had his shutout line spoiled on Trey Mancini’s 21st home run. In the seventh, Jorge Mateo, who Baseball America ranked as the Yankees’ top prospect in 2016, homered off Jonathan Loáisiga to tie his first game at Yankee Stadium.
After Conner Greene and Jorge López worked scoreless frames, Tyler Wells covered the next 1 2/3 innings, striking out three, before Cole Sulser entered and sent the game to extras.
There, the Orioles took the lead when Ryan Mountcastle plated Ryan McKenna, a pinch-runner who started the inning automatically at second, with a one-out single to left. The opportunity to extend the advantage ended when Mountcastle was doubled off second on Mancini’s line drive to short.
DJ LeMahieu scored New York’s automatic runner in the 10th with a one-out single to right off Sulser, taking second on the play and third on a wild pitch, but he was stranded there when Tate got Aaron Judge to ground out.
Mancini opened the top of the 11th at second, took a cautious read on Ramón Urías’ single and had to halt at third. Mancini said he was concerned that with Yankee Stadium’s shallow right field, Stanton would be playing in enough to make the catch. He also worried that if he broke for home on contact, Stanton’s arm would be strong enough to throw him out. Hyde praised Mancini’s approach as “really good base running.”
“Didn’t want to take any chances,” Mancini said. “Having first and third with no outs there is much better than getting thrown out with no outs at home.”
After a popup, Mateo hit a fly ball to right, and though Mancini initially broke for home, he stopped, with Stanton’s throw from right getting past catcher Gary Sánchez and allowing Urías to take second.
“We just didn’t get the ball deep enough for him to score,” Hyde said.
Kelvin Gutiérrez struck out to end the inning.
Means grinds through start
Even as Means went unscathed before Stanton’s home run, the Yankees still made him work. The left-hander threw 60 pitches while retiring 11 of the first 12 batters. He needed another 33 to record only four more.
“I thought I grinded it out,” Means said. “I thought I was behind in the count a little too much.”
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Stanton’s solo shot on a 2-1 changeup surprised Means and spoiled his nascent pursuit of a second no-hitter, and Anthony Rizzo doubled on the next pitch, though Means stranded him at second.
With one out in the fifth, Means issued a free pass to infrequent-walker Rougned Odor, and Gary Sánchez followed with a single to put runners on the corners. LeMahieu’s first-pitch sacrifice fly gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead, though Means avoided further damage in finishing off what proved to be his final frame.
Means struck out five over his five innings of two-run ball, ticking up his ERA to 3.47.
“I didn’t think he had his best fastball tonight, but I thought he pitched extremely well,” Hyde said. “This team is a lineup full of guys that do not chase out of the strike zone and can spoil pitches, and they got his pitch count up fairly early, but he gave up two runs in five innings to an All-Star-type lineup.”
Around the horn
- Hyde said reliever Hunter Harvey, who has missed the past two months with a right lat strain, will continue to be evaluated at Triple-A Norfolk. Harvey came out of his most recent rehab appearance Wednesday healthy, but Baltimore’s 2013 first-round pick allowed four runs while recording two outs.
- Delmarva right-hander Jean Pinto was named the Low-A East Pitcher of the Month for August, while outfielder Mishael Deson was the Florida Complex League Player of the Mount. Both were acquired in trades last year. Pinto was also named the organization’s pitcher of the month, while top prospect Adley Rutschman was player of the month for his performance between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk.
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