San Francisco Chronicle
⏩ Near perfect: Orioles’ John Means throws a no-hitter in Seattle.
SEATTLE — The clubhouse celebration that awaited John Means was more than 50 years in the making for the Baltimore Orioles and more like a playoff berth being clinched rather than a Wednesday in May.
Only a wild pitch in the dirt kept the Orioles from celebration perfection. That’s how dominant Means was in throwing the major leagues’ third nohitter of the season in Baltimore’s 60 win over the Mariners on Wednesday.
A franchise still in the midst of a rebuild and little to celebrate in recent seasons was happy to put the spotlight on its tall lefty who overmatched the Mariners with an array of unhittable fastballs, breaking pitches and changeups.
It wasn’t perfection — but it was about as close as it comes.
“I never really thought I’d be here. I’d always write ‘MLB player’ when I was a kid on the sheet when asked what you wanted to do when you’re older, but I never thought it was a reality,” Means said. “And now that it is, and now I’m able to throw this, it’s crazy and I don’t even know how to describe it.”
This wasn’t a fluke performance — Means has been one of the best pitchers in the American League to start this season. This was domination.
Means (40) struck out 12 and walked none. Seattle’s only baserunner was Sam Haggerty after he raced to first swinging on a curveball in the dirt for strike three with one out in the third inning. The 12 pitch bounced away from catcher Pedro Severino, all that separated Means from a perfect game.
Haggerty wasn’t on base long, getting thrown out attempting to steal second.
“I could care less that it wasn’t a perfect game,” Means said after his first complete game in 44 bigleague starts.
It was the first nonperfect nohitter in which the opposing team did not reach on a walk, hit by pitch or error, reported the Elias Sports Bureau.
Means threw 79 strikes among 113 pitches, including firstpitch strikes to 26 of 27 batters. When Seattle did make contact against the 28yearold lefthander, it was weak.
Means lowered his ERA to 1.37. He’s the first individual Orioles pitcher to toss a nohitter since Jim Palmer against the A’s on Aug. 13, 1969.
“It’s such a crazy feeling. It’s such a whirlwind of an experience. I don’t think I’ve been able to process it yet,” Means said. “But to be in the same breath as Palmer, I don’t think that it gets much better than that.”
In a season in which batters are on track to hit a recordlow .234, Means joined a nohit club with San Diego righthander Joe Musgrove at Texas on April 9 and by Chicago White Sox lefthander Carlos Rodon against Cleveland on April 14.
The closest Seattle came to a hit through six innings was J.P. Crawford’s short flyball in the sixth that center fielder Cedric Mullins caught with a slide. Kyle Lewis provided a threat with a drive leading off the eighth that Austin Hays caught on the leftfield warning track.