Tampa Bay hitters catch up to Means
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Major League Baseball has become a season-long version of the old long-ball television show labeled “Home Run Derby.”
Home Runs are like runaway and unchecked rabbits — they just keep multiplying!
The big leagues are now full of players swallowing the fences with their home runs. Pitchers are routinely solved for more and more long balls.
Former West Virginia University left-handed pitcher John Means, who pitched at WVU for one season after joining the Mountaineer program from a junior college, had been immune to the malady suffered by so many pitchers.
At the All-Star break, Means had a stellar 2.50 ERA and a 7-4 record with the downtrodden Baltimore Orioles, the cellar dwellers of the American League East.
In fact, Means was Baltimore’s only player on the American League All Star team.
Means did not appear in the just-played All Star game.
When the regular schedule began last Friday, Baltimore was in the process of finalizing a trade of its starting pitcher Andrew Cashner. The “Birds of Baltimore” were pounded by Tampa Bay, 16-4, on Friday. Then the next afternoon in a make-up game, they beat the Rays, 2-1, in a game where the Oriole starter went 2.2 innings of one-hit pitching before being removed.
On Saturday night, Means was Baltimore’s starter in a regularly scheduled game.
The home run craze finally infected Means.
He pitched six innings against the home run-happy Rays, and was stung three times by their long balls.
Means saw his ERA rise to 2.94 after delivering 98 pitches (64 strikes) and yielding eight hits and six earned runs.
The outing was his least effective performance of the season, and Baltimore fell, 12-4, to a Rays’ team, which clubbed six home runs in all.
Baltimore announced the trade of Cashner to Boston for a pair of 17-year-old prospects. Cashner is in the final year of a two-year contract and can be a free agent at the close of the 2019 season.
Tampa Bay won the Sunday, series-closing game against the O’s and left Charm City winning three-of-four to open the last segment of the season.
Means is still only 26 years-old and can’t become a free agent for seasons to come. He’s likely to remain in Baltimore’s starting rotation for some time.