The first chance for fans to bathe Adam Jones in applause tonight came with two outs in the bottom of the first inning. The Most Valuable Oriole for 2018 focused on his pending at-bat rather than an ovation that gained momentum as Astros starter Gerrit Cole stepped behind the mound and plate umpire Bill Miller held up his hand to signal for time.
Jonathan Villar stood at second base after a single and ground ball. A game was scoreless. A team captain likely was playing in his final homestand at Camden Yards.
Never one to shrink under the spotlight, Jones poked a double down the right field line to score Villar and ignite the crowd again.
Cole wouldn’t surrender another run, his contribution to the party limited, and David Hess’ shutout bid ended on Josh Reddick’s solo homer with two outs in the sixth.
Ryan Meisinger coaxed a double play grounder out of Carlos Correa with the bases loaded to keep the deficit at one run, but the Orioles became the sixth team since 1900 to lose at least 113 games.
Hess held the Astros to one run and three hits over seven innings in his 19th start and 21st appearance in his rookie season. A rainout on Thursday allowed the bullpen to catch its collective breath and give manager Buck Showalter more options. Hess offered the same.
Two walks and an infield hit on a ball that deflected off third baseman Jace Peterson’s glove loaded the bases in the eighth before Marwin Gonzalez lined a single into left field to break a 1-1 tie. Scott faced five batters and retired one.
Jose Altuve led off the top of the first with a bunt single, but Hess retired the next six batters with three strikeouts. Martin Maldonado singled to lead off the third and Hess hit Tony Kemp, but Hess plowed through the next 10 batters.
Altuve flied to left fielder DJ Stewart, who threw out Maldonado going to third base for his first major league outfield assist. It was legit. The ball carried to the edge of the warning track and Stewart still nabbed him.
Reddick’s fly ball landed on the flag court in right field with the count full.
Cole went six innings and became the third Astros pitcher to reach 200 innings this season, joining Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel, the starters in Saturday’s doubleheader. The 2005 Astros achieved the feat with Roger Clemens, Roy Oswalt and Andy Pettitte.
The pitch count wasn’t going to be an issue for Hess. He threw nine in the first and was up to 56 through the fifth. He completed the seventh inning to match his career high, stranding two batters after his only walks of the night.
Hess ends his rookie season with a 4.88 ERA in 103 1/3 innings, lowest among current Orioles starters. He allowed two earned runs or fewer in six of his last eight starts.
An Orioles starter hadn’t completed seven innings since Andrew Cashner on Aug. 25.
Mychal Givens retired the side in order in the ninth, with Peterson making a leaping catch to rob Evan Gattis, but Jones’ double would provide the only run for the Orioles.
The loudest ovation for Jones came in the bottom of the ninth, with fans who won’t be back for the rest of the weekend expressing their love and gratitude. He flied to the track in left field on the ninth pitch from Roberto Osuna, unable to give them another hit or RBI.
The crowd erupted again as Jones rounded first base, smiled and headed back to the dugout.
He’s down to his last two days.
Showalter on Hess ending rookie year in this fashion: “He was really good. That was fun to watch. It was good to see him end on a good note. I really wanted him to have a good outing. That was good to see. I told him that. I didn’t want to push it any more than that. Anytime you see a young pitcher go against a good team for a third time around the batting order and still be able to get outs, that’s good to see.”
Showalter on how Hess has 3.08 ERA since rejoining rotation: “If you look, the command of the fastball. I know you all get tired of hearing it, but you look at a guy like Cole and you look at guys who pitch well when they’re able to do that. It’s just, a lot of things open up to them. He’s got secondary pitches to pitch here. It’s just if he can make them honor the fastball and where he can throw it, then a lot of things will open up to him.”
Showalter on Hess pitching through September for first time: “He’s actually where he needs to be with his innings. This outing puts him right where a guy’s progression should be. The only difference being pitching in September. You keep talking about shutting guys down, (but) there’s some things to be learned and things that need to be experienced in September and hopefully down the road pitching in October.
“I know Dylan (Bundy) and some young pitchers, (Kevin) Gausman, used to talk about how important it was to pitch in September and some cases October so when you go in the offseason you know what you’re preparing for and realize what this is all about and why you need to do certain thing and not always more is better in spring training and know how long the season is. But it’s doubly good to see David finishing up strong this late in the season, especially with the starts he’s had.”
Showalter on whether he thought game was tied in ninth: “I was thinking, but that’s a great example of why they win those games. They’re a plus defensive team. We had a ball in left field we couldn’t quite get to that fell and they had a ball they got to with Marisnick that didn’t fall. We had a young pitcher who walked a couple guys who came around to bite him. Tanner fisted a guy and the guy muscled it over the infield.”
Showalter on crowd reaction to Jones: “It doesn’t surprise me. Our fans know what Adam has meant. It’s been a constant through thick and thin, knowing what you can expect out of Adam. That’s what managers, coaches, general managers, owners, fans, they’re all looking for somebody they can count on. You know what you’re going to get when they get through playing that song.
“He’s a very dependable guy, just like a lot of people we’ve had here. But not necessarily the longevity he’s had. To be able to do it over that period of time, I think people really appreciate it and want to thank him for it.”
Scott on issues: “I just wasn’t executing pitches. Hess did a great job today, went seven, only gave up a run, and then I came in and wasn’t able to execute a pitch.”