They were the team that couldn’t hold a lead.
David Hess surrendered two more home runs over the first three innings, the offense poked at Red Sox pitching but couldn’t puncture it and the Orioles continued their nosedive with a 6-4 loss before an announced crowd of 21,837 at Camden Yards.
The numbers remain cringe-worthy as they continue to trend toward historic. The Orioles are 19-47 overall and 10-20 at home following their sixth loss in a row and 13th in the last 15 games. They’re 20th win last year came on May 7. It remains on hold in 2018.
Mark Trumbo’s two-out, two-run double off closer Craig Kimbrel in the ninth brought pinch-hitter Pedro Álvarez to the plate as the potential tying run, but he struck out. Trumbo’s hit prevented the Orioles from being held to two runs or fewer in their 29th game.
Zach Britton made his 2018 debut in the seventh and walked the first two batters he faced and three in a scoreless inning. Austin Wynns threw out Mitch Moreland trying to advance on a ball that scooted past him and bounced off the brick wall and back toward the plate. Britton struck out Rafael Devers on a filthy slider, walked Brock Holt and retired Christian Vázquez on a grounder to complete his 26-pitch outing.
Hess allowed two home runs over 29 2/3 innings at Triple-A Norfolk. He’s been victimized by eight in 32 2/3 innings with the Orioles, including five to the Red Sox.
The first 13 runs off Hess in the majors came via home runs before he walked Andrew Benintendi with the bases loaded in the fourth inning and came out of the game, but he registered four quality starts. His two failings have come against the Red Sox, who added a fifth run on Miguel Castro’s balk as Hess watched from the dugout.
Castro’s appearance tonight ensures that Yefry Ramirez will start Wednesday afternoon in his major league debut. Castro, who leads the majors with three balks, was charged with a run in the fifth on a single, wild pitch, intentional walk and Vázquez’s RBI single that gave the Red Sox a 6-2 lead.
Devers hit a two-run homer in the second inning after Xander Bogaerts’ leadoff walk and Benintendi’s solo shot in the third off a Hess changeup expanded the lead to 3-1. Benintendi had a two-run homer off Hess in a May 20 start at Fenway Park.
Only 39 of Hess’ 73 pitches were strikes. He walked four batters and hit one, and his ERA rose from 3.07 to 4.13.
Hess has allowed 10 runs in eight innings against the Red Sox and five runs in 24 2/3 innings against the Rays (twice), Nationals and Blue Jays.
When he’s used again is up in the air with off-days on Thursday and Monday.
Orioles pitching was responsible for nine hits, 10 walks, two home runs, a wild pitch, a balk and a hit batter. An unsavory variety pack.
Rickard accounted for the Orioles’ third leadoff home run this season with his 395-foot shot off left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez. They’ve now been outscored 65-34 in the first inning.
Danny Valencia’s two-out single in the third scored Rickard, who led off with a walk, and reduced the lead to 3-2 before the Red Sox went on the attack again. Three singles in the fourth loaded the bases before Benintendi’s walk brought manager Buck Showalter out of the dugout.
The Orioles wasted Adam Jones’ single in the first inning and back-to-back singles by Trey Mancini and Jonathan Schoop to open the second, with Rodriguez’s two-seamer producing strikeouts of Trumbo and Craig Gentry. Gentry and Wynns singled with two outs in the fourth, but Rickard flied out.
Manny Machado’s walk in the fifth and Gentry’s single in the sixth produced nothing. The Orioles loaded the bases with one out in the seventh on back-to-back singles by Jones and Machado and Valencia’s walk, but Hector Velázquez struck out Mancini and Joe Kelly retired Schoop on a soft comebacker.
Matt Barnes got into trouble in the eighth after a leadoff walk to Trumbo and an error on Devers that allowed Gentry to reach. Pinch-hitter Chance Sisco struck out on eight pitches, Rickard lined out and Jones flied to shallow right.
Valencia and Schoop walked in the ninth before Trumbo’s hit. And why Kimbrel was pitching again tonight with a day game approaching is anybody’s guess.
Thirteen runners stranded tonight after 13 were left on base last night.
Gentry threw out Eduardo Núñez trying to score on Mitch Moreland’s two-out single in the eighth to spare Donnie Hart the run in his return to the Orioles.
Rodriguez was done after 5 2/3 innings and 109 pitches. He’s failed to complete six innings in six of his last seven starts. But the Red Sox’s bullpen stayed strong and the Orioles were held to two runs or fewer for the 29th time.
Note: The Orioles announced the signings of 14 more selections from the 2018 First-Year Player Draft: outfielder Robert Neustrom (fifth round), left-hander Kevin Magee (ninth), right-hander Dallas Litscher (10th), right-hander Parker McFadden (16th), right-hander Jake Zebron (18th), infielder Ian Evans (26th), left-hander Jason Montville (27th), catcher Jared Denning (29th), right-hander Tyler Joyner (30th), left-hander Jayvien Sandridge (32th), infielder Zach McLeod (33rd), outfielder Trey Truitt (34th), catcher Matt Beaird (36th) and right-hander Andrew Ciolli (37th).
The Orioles have signed 15 of their selections, including first-rounder Grayson Rodriguez.
Update: Andrew Cashner, on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his lower back, will undergo an MRI on Wednesday.
Showalter on Hess: “He’s coming in pitching so well. Been so happy with him, the way he’s pitched up here. Just command got away from him. We walked, what, seven, eight guys? I count the intentional walk because we were 3-0. And hit a batter. That’s a lot of baserunners to give a good-hitting team. But it seemed like he was a little quick tonight.
“He’s always been a get-down-the-hill guy and it seemed like he was a little out of sync. Tempo was a little different tonight.”
Showalter on Ramirez starting Wednesday: “Well, I’m just waiting to make sure he made his flight and everything. But that’s the plan. What we talked about earlier this afternoon. That’s the plan, for him to pitch tomorrow, unless something’s happened since before the game.”
Showalter on Britton: “I don’t know about hiccup. He was so amped up. There was a big rush going on there. He was spiking balls and felt great. He had the one ground ball down the first base line that ended up being foul that he broke over on. I asked after the inning and he said, ‘I didn’t think about it.’ That’s a good sign. And getting Darren (O’Day) back out there, too.
“I’m really happy for Zach, but as much so for Brian Ebel and Dave Walker and all the people that put in so much time and effort. Roger (McDowell) and Scotty McGregor, Dave Schmidt. Everybody that put in so much time trying to get Zach back tonight. That’s the culmination of a lot of hard, most of all by Zach.”
Showalter on 13 left on base being the same old story: “Sometimes we don’t have them out there. We’re sitting there with the tying run at the plate. We forced them to bring Kimbrel into the game even though it was a non-save situation. You’ve got a guy like Sale starting tomorrow, they feel pretty confident about their bullpen. They’ve got eight of them down there and a lot of big arms. They have some 30-appearance guys down there, and they’ve been able to pass the load around.
“The one that hurt us I thought was the first and third and nobody out and didn’t sniff a run. That one, you’ve got to get a ducat there.”
On why Mancini and Schoop have gone from being so good with RISP to struggling again tonight: “If we knew how it happened, we’d solve it. We know what they’re capable of and a lot of guys go through it. Like I tell them, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But they need some success. I don’t care how strong you are mentally or emotionally, this game will wear on you when you have that amount of struggles with something you’ve been so good at. So, as long as they keep grinding at it ...
“I know with Trey, there’s a lot of emotion and just, I don’t want to say fatigue, but it just beats on you every day. I know what they’re going through. I see it behind the scenes and in the dugout and up the runway. But there’s only one way to get out of it, you’ve got to keep going out there and you’ve got to fight your way through it.
“There will something down the road in what will be long careers for both of them that they’ll look back on and grow from.”
Britton on outing: “It was good to get into a game. Obviously, I was overthrowing everything I think I threw today. Just excited. Moving fast. Just hope to settle in the next time I get on the mound. Improve every time I get a chance to pitch.”