After a prolonged hiatus, left-hander John Means is primed to take the mound for the Baltimore Orioles against the St. Louis Cardinals this Tuesday night, marking his first start since April 13, 2022. The Orioles' notable Opening Day starter for 2021 and 2022 seasons and a no-hitter achiever in 2021, Means underwent Tommy John surgery after a mere two-game appearance in 2022.
"I like where I'm at," he remarked recently, exuding confidence after a bullpen session on Saturday. This followed his commendable performance with a 3.74 ERA in six rehab starts within the minors over the last month. At 30, with a 3.62 ERA from his 2021 season, Means is a beacon of experience the Orioles direly need in their contention with the Tampa Bay Rays for the American League East top spot.
Means vs. Veteran Wainwright Showdown
However, Tuesday will witness Means facing an even more seasoned opponent in the form of 42-year-old Adam Wainwright. This marks only the second time Wainwright, boasting an 18-year career, has played against Baltimore.
A memorable last face-off occurred on June 17, 2017, when the Orioles overwhelmed him with nine runs in under two innings. Regrettably, Wainwright's recent record isn't flattering either. With no wins since June 17 and a streak of 0-10 with a 10.72 ERA in the last 11 starts, his ERA for the season soared by 2.63.
Moreover, he conceded six runs in a recent outing against the Atlanta Braves. "Tried to buy him one more inning... Two homers chased him," commented Oliver Marmol, the Cardinals' manager. As Wainwright transitions to face the Orioles, reprieve seems distant.
With a trailblazing scoreline, winning eight of their last nine and scoring over ten runs in half of those, Baltimore is in formidable form. Case in point: their recent spectacular turnaround against the Cardinals, with Cedric Mullins' slam turning the tide.
Gunnar Henderson and Aaron Hicks were other standouts. For the Cardinals, the silver lining came from Willson Contreras' performance, who showcased a stellar cast in the ongoing road trip. The Orioles, on the other hand, are potentially on the cusp of more good tidings.
All-Star Felix Bautista, currently sidelined owing to an injury, might soon return to the pitch. Orioles' GM Mike Elias remains optimistic, "It's just going to depend on how he feels... Right now, this is our approach."
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