Left-hander John Means will make his first start since April 13, 2022, when the host Baltimore Orioles face the St. Louis Cardinals in the middle contest of a three-game series on Tuesday night.
Means, the Orioles’ Opening Day starter in 2021 and 2022 and the author of a no-hitter on May 5, 2021, underwent Tommy John surgery on April 27, 2022, after appearing in just two games that year.
In his most recent step on the comeback trail, Means threw a bullpen session on Saturday. He went 1-1 with a 3.74 ERA in six minor league rehab starts over the past month.
“I really like where (I’m) at,” Means said. “I like the way the pitches are moving and the reactions I’m getting, so I feel good about it.”
Means, a 30-year-old veteran who went 6-9 with a 3.62 ERA in his last full season in 2021, gives the Orioles (91-52) an experienced starter for the stretch run as they battle the Tampa Bay Rays for the American League East crown.
That being said, Means’ counterpart on Tuesday night is far more experienced, as 42-year-old Adam Wainwright (3-11, 8.19 ERA) will face Baltimore for just the second time in his 18-year career. He lost to the Orioles on June 17, 2017, when he was hammered for nine runs in 1 2/3 innings.
Wainwright has not won since June 17 and remains stuck on 198 career wins. Since his last victory, Wainwright has gone 0-10 with a 10.72 ERA in 11 starts, and his season ERA has risen by 2.63 in that span.
Last time out, Wainwright gave up six runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings in a loss to the Atlanta Braves on Thursday. It was the fourth time in six starts that he allowed at least six runs.
“Tried to buy him one more inning and let the offense come through for him,” St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol said after the setback against Atlanta. “Two homers chased him.”
Transitioning to the Orioles from the Braves will likely provide no respite for Wainwright. Baltimore has won eight of its past nine games and has scored 10 or more runs in four of its past five.
The Orioles trailed 5-3 going into the bottom of the fifth on Monday night, but Cedric Mullins capped a five-run inning with his third career grand slam and Baltimore rolled to an 11-5 win.
Gunnar Henderson added three hits, including a home run, and Aaron Hicks also finished with three hits for the Orioles, who posted their 46th come-from-behind victory of the season.
Willson Contreras had three hits and drove in two runs for the Cardinals. Contreras is 8-for-16 on the team’s current nine-game road trip.
One more loss would ensure that the Cardinals finish with their first losing record since 2007, when they went 78-84.
Baltimore might have more good news on the horizon. All-Star closer Felix Bautista, who is on the 15-day injured list due to a partially torn right ulnar collateral ligament, could pitch again this season.
He began playing catch during the Orioles’ recent nine-game road trip.
“I think the fact that we’re keeping him throwing right now speaks to the fact now that this is not over for 2023,” Orioles general manager Mike Elias said before the Monday game. “It’s just going to depend on how he feels as we keep this going. Right now, this is our approach.”
–Field Level Media
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