ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - If David Hess had any shot at getting deeper into his start tonight against the Rays, he needed to soften the contact against him.
Think pillow instead of pillar.
Everything that Hess threw was tattooed, with exit velocities in the first inning of 115.4, 102.3, 105.6 and 108.9 mph - the latter resulting in a three-run homer by the University of Maryland’s Brandon Lowe on a ball that traveled 409 feet, according to Statcast.
Hess allowed another run in the second and back-to-back homers by Ji-Man Choi and Yandy Díaz to open the third, and Orioles hitters were challenged to make any sort of contact in an 8-1 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field.
The Orioles are 7-12 and assured of losing their first road series after going 2-0-1.
Plate umpire CB Bucknor ejected field coordinator Tim Cossins between the Choi and Díaz home runs to add another layer of chaos to the evening. The Orioles dugout was chirping over called third strikes to all three batters in the top of the third and Bucknor appeared to toss manager Brandon Hyde, who raced onto the field, with Cossins following him.
Hyde extended an arm to keep Cossins back and resumed the argument, which was sparked by Bucknor walking toward the visiting bench and gesturing. A television camera caught Cossins telling Bucknor, “I said it,” and the umpire finally got a call right.
Tonight marked the first ejection of Cossins’ career. He filled in for Hyde on Monday after the manager was tossed in Boston.
Hess didn’t last much longer than Cossins. He was charged with six runs and eight hits in two-plus innings and the three home runs tied his career high. Díaz was the last batter he faced.
The Orioles have surrendered a home run in 18 of 19 games and a total of 44 to lead the majors.
Choi’s ball traveled 426 feet to right field with an exit velo of 107.3. Díaz’s ball went 399 feet to left with an exit velo of 107.9.
In the only inning for Hess without a home run, Kevin Kiermaier led off with a double that left the bat at 105.5 mph and he scored on Mike Zunino’s single. Willy Adames doubled, the exit velo 101.2 mph, and Zunino was caught off third base on Austin Meadow’s line drive to Richie Martin, who shifted to the right side. Zunino had no chance to get back and just kept jogging toward the plate.
Meadow’s liner had an exit velo of 104.2 mph.
You get the idea.
Bringing calm to the storm, Lucas struck out the first two batters he faced and tossed two scoreless innings. Tanner Scott entered in the fifth and Kiermaier’s two-out single scored Lowe for a 7-0 lead. Avisaíl García received an intentional walk after Lowe’s double.
Díaz had an RBI double off Mike Wright in the seventh after Choi walked to give Tampa Bay an 8-1 lead.
Hess served up home runs with his changeup, fastball and slider. Nothing was working for him tonight.
The Orioles talked about using an opener this season, but their strategy mimicked a bullpen game. The Rays go with a true opener in Stanek, who unleashes upper-90s fastballs for an inning or two before manager Kevin Cash seeks length from one reliever.
Stanek threw 14 pitches in the first and was done. He struck out Jonathan Villar and Trey Mancini, allowed a rope double by Dwight Smith Jr. to right-center field and struck out Renato Núñez, whose 10 previous starts at first base came in the minors.
Yonny Chirinos took over for Stanek and struck out the first two batters before Jesús Sucre doubled. He struck out the side in the third - all looking to get the Orioles dugout riled up - - and gave the Ray five scoreless innings with one hit allowed.
The Orioles didn’t get another hit after the Sucre double until Rio Ruiz homered off Wilmer Font with one out in the seventh.
Rays pitching recorded 13 strikeouts and held the Orioles to three hits.
Hyde on Hess: “Just wasn’t his night. They were on every pitch. I haven’t talked to him but obviously they were taking good swings off him. It looked like he missed location a few times and it just wasn’t his night.”
Hyde on whether he knew right away: “A lot of times with good pitchers, you try to get to those guys early like (Tyler) Glasnow last night, and I was hoping David would kind of settle into a groove. He just never settled into a groove and gave up some loud outs. They hit a lot of balls on the barrel tonight and one of those nights.”
Hyde on ejection confusion: “He pointed in our dugout and I didn’t know what he was pointing at. It looked like he was pointing at me and I was asking who he was pointing at. He kept pointing at me, so I went out there and wondered what was going on. There were some things that happened before that. Yeah, we had some frustration, some disagreements on some things and ironed it out.”
Hyde on 13 strikeouts: “We’re facing good pitching. This is really good stuff. They’ve done a really nice job putting together a pitching staff that there’s a lot of plus stuff coming out of the ‘pen, guys have big arms. You’ve got to bring your lunch pail, you’ve got to be able to grind.
“I thought Smitty hit three balls on the nose, two didn’t work out. I loved Villar’s hustle on the error where we’re down six or seven. He hits a routine ground ball to short and forces a bad throw. I liked the way we still did some things and if we continue to do those types of things we’re going to have better nights. But they just beat us tonight.”
Hyde on removing Villar in ninth: “He’s played every inning, so I took him out.”
Hess on start: “I think really more than anything just leaving balls over the middle of the plate and up. It’s a good hitting team right now. They’re feeling good, and you can’t do that against any major league team, especially a team that’s hitting like that right now.”
Hess on adjustments he tried to make: “Really more than anything, generally speaking, when balls are elevated and over the middle of the plate like that it’s a little bit of a mechanical aspect. So I think I was just leaking forward a little bit and that was something that talking with Broc (Doug Brocail), we kind of addressed that and we’re going to work on that in a few days on my side day, so just something to learn from, really, and understand that it’s something that can be corrected in game. So just trying to use it as a learning experience.”
Hess on whether he still has his no-hit stuff from Toronto: “I think it’s the same stuff. I think it’s the same stuff that I performed well with then and I think it’s the same stuff that’ll get back on track soon. I think really it’s just being able to utilize that stuff and, like I said, making sure that everything’s mechanically sound. When everything’s lined up like that, we know how fun it can be out there, and when it’s not, it shows that it can go the other way as well.”
Villar on strike zone: “That guy, sometimes he’s calling good. Sometimes he calls one spot. Sometimes he calls away all the time. He misses sometimes, his spot to the plate. We’re not perfect. So it’s all right. Next time, he’ll maybe call it good.”