Orioles left-hander John Means knocked out the Brewers on 12 pitches in the first inning, nine in the third and 12 in the fourth tonight. They scored two goals in the second on 18 places, but he didn’t work. The overall work was solid.
Why it only lasted until the fourth was an oddity, to say the least.
Joey Krehbiel started warming up in the bullpen and went into the game in the top fifth. Dillon Tate worked on the sixth. Other helpers would follow him as manager Brandon Hyde had to cover for Means’ unexpected departure.
The club announced that Means had left the forearm tightness. More details will follow, including whether this is a violated list situation. Meanwhile, the Orioles rallied to level the game in game eight, but a run-scoring triple from Kolton Wong and an RBI double from Rowdy Tellez in the ninth from Jorge López gave Milwaukee a 4-2 win and the series .
Means is expected to undergo an MRI and the club are hoping to have more information on Friday.
“He felt it in the third and after the fourth he said something and we took him out of the game as a precaution,” Hyde said.
“I’m not going to rush anything until we know what the results are tomorrow. Stay positive and optimistic and hopefully it’s just a bit of tension he’s felt in his forearm.”
Means went to the IL on June 5 with a left shoulder strain and didn’t return until July 20, the same injury he picked up two years earlier. He began the shortened 2020 season in the IL with left shoulder fatigue and missed his opening day start. Basically the same problem.
Today’s statement focused on a different area of the arm but will raise similar concerns.
“There’s no big concern,” Means said. “Honestly, I felt it on the last outing, felt it on my curveball. The forearm started to tighten, I struggled through it, and then this week it got better and better as the week progressed. I felt great in the bullpen and the first two innings, and in the third inning I felt it again on a curveball. It was just tight and I told them I could go back out but they wanted to make sure.
“That’s how it started and then it was tight for everything when I felt it.”
Hyde said he didn’t notice anything with Means on the hill. No one knew what was going on until they revealed it.
“It wasn’t tingling fingers or anything,” Means said. “It was just the forearm.”
The funds totaled 84 pitches in four innings on opening day. The idea was to expand it further, not withdraw it.
Attributing the discomfort to a brief spring training session “is all speculation from here,” Means said.
“It’s definitely frustrating. Just wanted to get started, wanted to start the season strong. It’s a long season, and get that out of the way, get started. I’m still confident that I can go.
“I’ve never felt the forearm before. It was always the little things in the shoulder, so I never felt it and that worried me a bit. But they kind of reassured me it’s just muscle.
“We just take it day by day. We’re going to take a few days and I think we’ll get started in a few days.”
Hyde was talking earlier about getting Means through the 5th or 6th in the 85 pitch range, maybe a bit higher. The game would dictate it, the amount of traffic and stressful situations.
There was very little stress.
Tellez doubled with two outs in second to meet Keston Hiura, who walked, and he ran into midfield via a stop sign from third base coach Jason Lane on Mike Brosseau’s single. Ryan Mountcastle stopped the throw with his back to the plate, expecting Tellez to save.
Brosseau’s hit was his sixth in 12 career at-bats against Means, including four homers. The team changes and the results remain the same. Can’t escape them.
Means’ fastball averaged 91.6 mph per Statcast tonight, down from 92.8 mph on his first outing.
“He gave up two in the second but zeroed out the first, third and fourth,” Hyde said. “His pitch count was reasonable, I was hoping he could give us a few more innings.”
So did his teammates.
“Obviously a little concerned because that’s our No. 1 out there, so it’s never good to see him go down,” Ramón Urías said through interpreter Brandon Quinones. “But we don’t really know what’s going on, so we’re not scared or anything. Now just hope for the best.
“When pitching, I didn’t really notice that anything was wrong. When I saw him come out of the game in the dugout, I was like, ‘Okay, I guess something happened.’ ”
Means pulled back the last seven batters he faced and Krehbiel charged through the fifth without a ball leaving the infield. Tate retired the team in the sixth with two ground balls and a strikeout, and he landed a runner in the seventh.
Speed on Tate’s sinker climbed to 94 mph after sitting at 90-91 on his last appearance.
Félix Bautista posted another strikeout with his substitution and got a double play to avoid a jam in the eighth, but Hunter Renfroe defeated López with an out in the ninth and sped home to right corner with Wong’s double. Tellez doubled into midfield with two outs.
Jorge Mateo dropped a single in midfield against Devin Williams, who initiated eighth place, and Anthony Bemboom pulled a full-count walk while Ryan McKenna pinch-runned. Cedric Mullins struck out but Mountcastle lined a run-scoring single into midfield to cut the lead to 2-1 and put the runners in the corners.
Anthony Santander was hit below the right knee with the ninth pitch of the at-bat to load the bases and bring Brad Boxberger into the fight. Trey Mancini flew to center left center and McKenna hit the throw.
Concerns about a total lack of power with runners in goal position were brushed aside tonight.
The Orioles just wanted to take someone to second base and take their chances.
The Brewers started 2021 with National League Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes throwing an anchor to a drowning man. If you’re choking, you’d rather have the Heimlich maneuver than a double cheeseburger.
Bemboom’s first hit as an Oriole was also the first of the night, a one-off single in the third inning. He transitioned to second base on a wild pitch, but a flyball and strikeout continued the troubling trend.
Roughed Odor led from fifth with a double on the left field line. Austin Hays, Jorge Mateo and Bemboom struck and the Orioles were 0-for-5 with RISP and 4-for-52 young season.
Santander singled with two outs in the sixth and Mancini hit the floor. Odor reached on a hit by a pitch with an out in seventh and was doubled to right field from first base on Hays’ liner.
Urías finished in the round of 16, and the Orioles were 1-8 with RISP and 5-55 overall.
Burnes knocked out the Orioles with three hits and 97 pitches in seven innings, walking a batsman and knocking out eight.
“We’re ready for a day off because we’ve had a couple of bad breaks,” said Hyde.
Note: Triple-A Norfolk outfielder Yusniel Diaz was put on the seven-day injured list with a strained right hamstring.