John Means wants to finish the season just like he started it. The American League Rookie of the Year candidate is doing just that.
The Baltimore Orioles left-hander has gone at least 6 1/3 innings and allowed two or fewer runs in his last four starts. His control has been impeccable, walking just one batter while striking out 21.
Means (10-10, 3.47 ERA) will make his next start on Monday in the finale of a four-game series in Detroit.
He leads all AL rookies in wins and ERA.
"With the strong first half that I had, it was my goal to not have it teeter off toward the end, to stay strong, keep attacking guys," Means said to MLB.com. "After the break, it kind of started to teeter. To come back and feel like I'm back in a normal self, it feels pretty good."
Means posted a 7-4 record with a 2.50 ERA prior to the All-Star break. He surrendered six runs in his first start after the break and didn't get out of the fourth inning in three of his next four starts.
He got back in a groove on Aug. 24 with a seven-inning gem against Tampa Bay in which he allowed one run on five hits. In his last outing on Wednesday, he allowed two runs on four hits in 6 1/3 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"John Means, for me, is a competitor," Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. "I think he's improving."
That includes adding another pitch to his arsenal. He's developed a slurve -- a hybrid curve and slider -- to keep right-handed hitters off balance. He threw a dozen of them against the Dodgers.
"I'm always working to try to get better, trying to get that full repertoire of pitches," he said to MLB.com. "My mentality is, I'm never satisfied. I always have something that I'm working on, always something I want to get better at."
Means was stingy against the Tigers in his lone previous appearance against them on May 29. He held them to one run on three hits in six innings but finished with a no-decision.
He'll be opposed by another left-hander, Tyler Alexander (0-3, 5.40 ERA), who is seeking his first major-league victory. He's pitched well in long relief stints lately, giving up a combined three runs on six hits in 11 innings while striking out 12 in his last three outings.
The Orioles, who have taken two of the first three games of the series, will be seeing him for the first time.
Detroit outfielder Victor Reyes went 1-for-5 in Sunday's 8-2 loss.
Reyes delivered a game-tying, ninth-inning homer on Saturday in an 8-4, 12-inning victory. He was on the roster all of last season as a Rule 5 player, hitting .222 in 212 plate appearances. In 224 at-bats this season since getting more minor league seasoning, he's hitting .299 while emerging as manager Ron Gardenhire's leadoff hitter.
"He's confident now," Gardenhire said. "He feels like he belongs. He went to Triple-A and got a ton of at-bats, which we said had to happen for him because he didn't get many last year."
--Field Level Media