BOSTON — Orioles left-hander John Means was supposed to begin the 2020 opener in Boston earlier than a sore arm landed him on the injured checklist.
When he obtained his likelihood this 12 months, he froze the Crimson Sox in a frigid Fenway Park.
Means pitched seven innings of one-hit ball, permitting a single to steer off the sport and retiring the final 18 batters he confronted on Friday to steer Baltimore to a 3-0 victory over Boston of their rain-delayed opener.
“It was a very cool expertise. One thing I’ll have, to inform my youngsters eternally,” Means mentioned. “It was most likely among the best begins of my profession.”
Means struck out 5 and allowed simply two baserunners — the opposite on an error — incomes the win when Ryan Mountcastle doubled in two runs within the sixth to interrupt a scoreless tie. Anthony Santander added an RBI single within the eighth.
Means allowed a single to Boston leadoff hitter Kiké Hernández, then picked him off first. The one different Crimson Sox baserunner for him got here when Xander Bogaerts reached on third baseman Maikel Franco’s error to steer off the second; he was stranded there.
“Only a clinic, pitching smart,” Orioles supervisor Brandon Hyde mentioned. “Gave up the leadoff single after which cruised from there.”
Tanner Scott pitched one hitless inning and César Valdez obtained the final three outs for the save within the mixed two-hitter. The Crimson Sox had been shut out in an opener for the primary time since 1976, when Jim Palmer and the Orioles beat Ferguson Jenkins 1-0 in a matchup of Corridor of Famers in Baltimore.
Cedric Mullins and Pedro Severino every had two hits for Baltimore, which completed fourth within the AL East final season, one recreation forward of the last-place Crimson Sox.
“We knew that we had been going to lose in the course of the season, we obtained it out of the best way I suppose,” Crimson Sox supervisor Alex Cora mentioned.
Cora, who guided Boston to the 2018 World Sequence championship, returned this season after serving a suspension final 12 months for his position within the Astros dishonest scandal. He obtained a giant cheer when the groups had been launched earlier than the sport.
Boston put runners on first and second in opposition to Scott with two out within the eighth, however Bobby Dalbec struck out seeking to finish it. J.D. Martinez doubled and took third on a handed ball within the ninth earlier than Valdez retired Bogaerts on a line drive to proper.
Nathan Eovaldi scattered 4 hits and a stroll over 5 1/3 innings for Boston. After Severino singled to steer off the sixth, Matt Andriese got here in with one out and walked Trey Mancini.
Santander grounded a possible double-play ball to second base, however Hernández booted it, loading the bases. Mountcastle adopted with a double off the Inexperienced Monster to make it 2-0.
A day after the season’s first recreation was postponed due to rain and chilly, the Crimson Sox and Orioles tried once more in higher climate — sunshine and puffy clouds however nonetheless a first-pitch temperature of 37 levels.
The group of 4,452 — 12% of capability, as allowed by the state — huddled beneath blankets and winter coats and had little for his or her gloved arms to clap for.
“It was positively a pleasant feeling to have individuals within the seats, power within the ballpark,” Hyde mentioned. “Dwelling or highway, it’s a lot completely different when there’s individuals right here. It was a pleasant change from final 12 months.”
After hitting 35 homers in 2019, Mancini missed all of final season after having surgical procedure for colon most cancers. He obtained a hug from Crimson Sox catcher Christian Vázquez earlier than his first at-bat, when he grounded right into a double play, and different gamers .
“It means every little thing on the earth to me,” Mancini mentioned. “All of us play in opposition to one another 19 instances a 12 months on this division. However all of us have a very excessive respect for one another.”
After grounding into double performs in his first two at-bats, the 29-year-old first baseman walked earlier than singling in his ultimate at-bat. He mentioned the sport was “much more particular than my main league debut.”
“If you hear you are identified with most cancers, baseball was the farthest factor from my thoughts,” he mentioned. “I made positive to soak all of it in it doesn’t matter what occurred at the moment, and simply respect it.”
The socially distanced crowd was the primary to absorb a recreation on the 109-year-old ballpark since Sept. 29, 2019, when Rafael Devers singled off Orioles reliever Dillon Tate within the backside of the ninth to attain Mookie Betts in a 5-4, walk-off victory.
The pregame ceremony included a roll name of baseball greats like Hank Aaron and Tom Seaver who died up to now 12 months. The Crimson Sox additionally remembered those that died of COVID-19: Former coach and Triple-A supervisor Ron Johnson was singled out earlier than the group posted the variety of pandemic deaths in Boston, Massachusetts, New England, america and the world.
The group additionally acknowledged those that labored by means of the pandemic, together with medical doctors and nurses, vaccine researchers, different important employees and the workers of the clinic at Fenway Park that administered greater than 56,000 vaccines earlier than group returned to the ballpark to begin the season.
Mayor Kim Janey threw a ceremonial first pitch, and retired second baseman Dustin Pedroia and his three sons appeared on the scoreboard through Zoom to proclaim “Play Ball!”
Hernández appeared to twist his ankle slipping off the bag within the first however he remained within the recreation. Boston LHP Eduardo Rodriguez pitched a simulated recreation on the group’s alternate coaching website in Worcester.
Rookie RHP Tanner Houck (3-0, 0.53 ERA final 12 months) pitches for Boston, going through Orioles righty Matt Harvey (0-3, 11.57).
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