David Hess seemed to be dropping hints early tonight that he’d more closely resemble the version of himself that stymied the Blue Jays in Toronto than the one who turned in his shortest start last week at Tropicana Field.
It happened in the first inning with back-to-back called third strikes on Yoán Moncada and José Abreu, a changeup and 95 mph fastball getting Hess back in the dugout on 10 pitches.
Or it could have been the five-pitch fourth inning - popup, fly ball and grounder. Blink and it was missed.
The White Sox had one baserunner against Hess through the fourth as he retired 12 of 13 batters, but unlike the night of his flirtation with a no-hitter in Canada, the Orioles wouldn’t hand him a sizeable lead and he wouldn’t motor through the fifth.
Hess stalled, the White Sox sent nine batters to the plate and the Orioles were headed toward a 12-2 loss before an announced crowd of 8,555 at Camden Yards.
Catcher Jesús Sucre pitched the ninth inning - the third time this month that the Orioles have used a position player on the mound and the 12th in club history. He’s done it six times in his career.
Sucre retired the side in order on nine pitches, seven for strikes. Two ground balls and a fly ball. A top-notch relief effort.
The remaining fans gave Sucre a standing ovation as he walked to the dugout, nodding his head in approval of his effort.
Pedro Severino homered in the bottom of the ninth off Josh Osich, who was in Orioles camp, to account for the final margin.
One baserunner on Hess was followed by six in the fifth, his final inning before Gabriel Ynoa replaced him. A five-pitch inning was followed by 32. Four runs scored with Tanner Scott on the mound in the seventh - two of them unearned - Miguel Castro allowed four in two-thirds of an inning and the Orioles fell to 8-16 overall, 1-10 at home.
Tim Anderson doubled, former Orioles prospect Nicky Delmonico walked and James McCann belted a three-run homer, the ball traveling 421 feet to left field, according to Statcast. The at-bat included seven pitches and four pickoff attempts at first base.
Ryan Cordell doubled with one out, Moncada walked with two down and Abreu stroked a run-scoring single for a 4-0 lead.
Hess has allowed eight home runs to pass Dylan Bundy for the team lead. He’s tied for first in the American League.
The Orioles have surrendered 58 to extend their major league record for the highest total before May 1.
What developed in the fifth was harder on the Orioles given their failure to score in the fourth and the events behind it.
Renato Núñez led off with a single off Manny Bañuelos, making his first start since 2015 with the Braves, and Hanser Alberto brought the bunt drills from earlier in the day into the game by laying one down for a hit. Stevie Wilkerson failed twice on his attempts at a sacrifice bunt and popped up, but Rio Ruiz singled to load the bases.
Severino squared to bunt, didn’t offer at the pitch and McCann fired to third base to pick off Núñez. Severino struck out looking and the rally fizzled.
Núñez wandered too far down the line, absorbed the tag heading back to the bag and landed on his back.
Trey Mancini had an RBI double off Ryan Burr in the fifth after Jonathan Villar singled, but Abreu hit a two-run homer off Scott in the seventh, Richie Martin committed his second error of the night, an errant throw on an attempted 6-5 putout allowing Yonder Alonso to score, and McCann lined an RBI single into center field for an 8-1 lead.
The White Sox again sent nine batters to the plate. And Abreu ran his RBI total to five with a two-run single off Castro in the eighth - an inning that included two singles, two walks and two wild pitches before a batter was retired.
Castro uncorked a third wild pitch after a strikeout and Adam Engel, who wasn’t in the starting lineup, delivered a two-run single for a 12-1 lead. Jimmy Yacabonis was rushed into the game after the fifth hit off Castro, who retired only one batter in the inning and two on the night.
The list of Orioles’ concerns must include Castro, whose stuff isn’t lining up with his 10.80 ERA. He threw only 21 of his 45 pitches for strikes, and with a minor league option remaining could be in danger of becoming the next player to lose his roster spot.
Hyde on Hess: “Well, I just think he made a bad pitch to McCann. We had him 1-2, fouled a couple fastballs late on the heater and just kind of hung a slider in the middle of the plate that hurt him. He had good stuff going into the (fifth) there and just made a bad pitch to make it a 3-0 game.”
Hyde on damage of four-run innings later: “The tone was set a little bit there in the bottom of the fourth when we had first and second, nobody out, can’t get a bunt down. Then a base hit to center that we don’t get a good read on, so we have bases loaded and one out. I wanted Severino to do what he did in his last at-bat, but he is the ultimate team guy. This guy is a warrior-type guy. I love everything about his makeup and he’s trying to do the right thing and trying to score a run and we make a poor baserunning mistake at third base and the momentum switches there and they hit a three-run homer. Those things happen.
“Obviously when you get into a game like that you want to try to think about tomorrow and save bullpen arms and we’re about keeping our guys healthy and fresh. You get caught in a bind there where you can’t do it because guys can’t get through innings. And it’s happened a few too many times this year.”
Hyde on whether bunt play on with Severino: “No. Sevie has done it a few times. He’s not going to do it anymore. He’s trying to be a team player. He saw Abreu back and wanted to try to score a run for the club, get an RBI, get a 1-0 lead. We talked about it. I want him to do what he did his last at-bat.”
Hyde on whether part of being young pitcher when outings fall part: “Part of a young team, and it’s something we’re learning, is rebounding from mistakes. Mistakes do happen and it’s get the next guy out. We’re going to make mistakes. There’s no doubt about it. We’re really inexperienced and we haven’t had a ton of big league success, a lot of our guys. So there’s going to be mistakes made, and now it’s how do you go on to the next pitch and how do you get the next guy out and how do you not let it snowball?
“That’s the consistency part of the game that’s really, really difficult at the big league level. The good players are very, very consistent. They might have tough times, but they’re able to rebound. Now our guys just need to learn how to do that. How to make a bad pitch but make a good one next to limit damage. That’s just part of the develop process with a lot of our guys, offensively and defensively.”
Hyde on Castro: “Miggy’s trying. It’s not from lack of effort, not from lack of work beforehand, not from how bad he wants it. It just didn’t happen tonight. He’s had some good moments, he’s had some moments that you’d like to forget. And it’s part of it. His stuff is really, really good and tonight he had a tough time getting ahead of hitters, so when every hitter’s 2-0 and sitting on stuff, it’s a lot easier to hit.”
Hyde on Martin’s defense: “Richie hasn’t had a tough night defensively because he’s been so good all year long and those games definitely happen. He’s going to have another one like that. He’s going to have another couple like that. That’s just part of playing for six months. Those things happen. So first three weeks of the year his defense has been spectacular. Kind of a couple tough plays tonight. I wouldn’t let it ... His confidence won’t be shaken by it. He’s been really good.”
Hyde on whether needs fresh arm Tuesday: “No, we’re not. No. We’re going with what we’ve got.”
Hyde on whether anything correctable with Castro when struggling like tonight: “I think working ahead in the count, being able to work ahead in the count. He’s got a 97-98 mph sinker, but when you’re 2-0 to big league hitters and you’re predictable they can time you up. And when Miggy’s ahead in the count and Miggy’s attacking, good things usually happen. But tonight he just had a tough time commanding and he was falling behind.”
Hess on what happened after fourth: “I think I left a couple sliders in the middle of the zone and just didn’t get the finish we wanted on it, especially the one to McCann. That’s something you can’t do in that situation and so not ideal results, but those first four were good. Sevie did a really good job back there.”
Hess on whether frustration at how it snowballed: “Frustration, not so much. I think for me I look at it just as a responsibility when I start games to keep us in it and that home run really I think was a big blow to us. After that I think it’s something that really, the momentum kind of shifted a little bit and that’s on me and that’s something I need to improve on.”
Hess on mood of club as losses mount: “We have a really competitive group of guys here. I think everybody wants to go out and we want to win ballgames and unfortunately we’ve had some tough luck with that on this homestand and at home. We do have a really competitive group, but also a group of guys that’s working really hard and I think the results aren’t there right now, but there’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes.
“Seeing it on an everyday basis, the right things are happening and the right things are in place to where those things will turn around. Baseball is such a humbling game in a way, and then it can also be really uplifting at times. So right now we’re just in a little bit of that humbling time and we’re looking ahead and we’re looking forward to when that shifts.”
Hess on whether stuff the best he’s had since Toronto: “Yeah, stuff-wise I think it was there. I think really the only thing that kind of left me a little bit was that slider command in the fifth inning, but then you look at it and there were some good ones that were thrown, as well. Stuff-wise everything felt good. Like I said, Sevie called a great game back there and we made some good plays on defense, so really like I said the responsibility of making pitches when they matter most, I think that’s what it comes down to.”
Sucre on pitching: “He asked Alberto after the eighth inning. I saw when they asked him and I told Hyde I can pitch, I can do it over there. He was like, ‘I don’t want you to pitch because you’re going to catch tomorrow.’ I was, ‘I’ll be O.K. I’m not going to (overthrow).”