KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Playing high school ball in suburban Kansas City, lefty John Means hoped he would someday pitch at Kauffman Stadium.
Did he figure that actually would happen? Hardly.
Means made the wait worth it, pitching seven strong innings to claim his first win against his hometown team as the Baltimore Orioles pounded the Royals 14-2 Friday night.
“I didn’t think I’d ever make it here, to be honest,” he said with a big grin on his face. “It was always my dream, but I was a realist as a kid. I thought I’d have to get a job.”
“It was really cool. I grew up probably coming to 200 games here in my lifetime. I’m definitely familiar with the park,” he said.
Means graduated from nearby Gardner-Edgerton High School in Kansas. The 26-year-old All-Star said there were around 100 friends and family members in attendance.
“There were some people who didn’t even tell me they were coming that I saw when I was coming out of the bullpen,” he said.
Means (10-9) matched a career high for innings. He gave up two runs and five hits, walking none and striking out four.
“To perform like that in front of family and friends I’m sure feels great,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “He did it without his best fastball and his best changeup. He didn’t throw that many breaking balls. For him to go seven innings against a big league ballclub without his best stuff is pretty cool.”
Means was activated from the family medical emergency list prior to the game. He was put on the list last weekend and returned to the Kansas City area. The team had said it was a private matter — Means said after the game that his father had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a couple of weeks ago.
Before the game, Hyde said the timing was good for Means to return.
“The fortunate part was that he was able to come home,” Hyde said. “It just happened to work out that we were coming here. It’s his day to pitch and he gets the opportunity to pitch in front of numerous family members and friends. So it’s pretty cool.”
Means was a high school teammate of Royals center fielder Bubba Starling. The first time up, Starling doubled — he fouled out twice in his other at-bats against Means.
“He said, ‘slider, huh?’ when he walked past me after the double,” Means said.
Hanser Alberto got a career-high five hits and Pedro Severino had four of the Orioles’ 21 hits in their highest-scoring game of the season.
Jonathan Villar stole three bases, including a swipe of home when the Royals tried to pick him off third base.
“It feels pretty good,” Alberto said, “but it feels better when you get a ‘W.’ It was a great team win tonight. I’m sticking to my approach to hit it to the big part of the field.”
Jorge Soler hit his 38th home run, tying the Royals record set by Mike Moustakas in 2017.
“He feels good about it,” quality control coach Pedro Grafol said, translating for Soler. “Obviously, he tied the record. We lost, so that wasn’t good, but he was able to tie the all-time record here. He feels like if he breaks it, he breaks it, if he doesn’t he doesn’t.”
Soler hit a solo drive in the first, his 10th home run in August.
Anthony Santander hit a three-run homer that put the Orioles up 4-1 in the third. Severino added his second RBI single of the game, driving in Villar with a flyball that dropped between three fielders.
Eric Skoglund (0-1) gave up six runs on nine hits and three walks in four innings.
Royals left fielder Alex Gordon pitched for the second time in five games. He allowed two runs on three hits and a walk in the ninth.
Royals: LHP Danny Duffy is expected to be reinstated from the 10-day injured list for Sunday’s start against the Orioles. Duffy has been on the IL since Aug. 8 with a left hamstring strain. Duffy’s last rehab start was Aug. 25 with Double-A Northwest Arkansas, and it was enough to convince him he’s ready.
“That was a test, and I passed. I’m looking forward to sharpening a little bit more and getting that pitch count a little bit higher.” … SS Adalberto Mondesi may be activated Sunday as well when rosters can be expanded. Mondesi has been on the IL since July 17 with a left shoulder subluxation.
Orioles: RHP Dylan Bundy (6-13, 4.98 ERA) starts for Baltimore.
Royals: RHP Jorge Lopez (2-7, 6.56 ERA) allowed one run on two hits in five innings against the Orioles in Baltimore on Aug. 19.
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