The plan to duplicate the first five innings of his last start unraveled today for David Hess after back-to-back walks in the opening frame.
Seldom is there a positive outcome. Free passes aren’t really free.
Brandon Belt singled with two outs to score both runners, Buster Posey homered in the third and the Orioles never led in an 8-2 loss to the Giants before an announced crowd of 19,352 at sunny Camden Yards.
Renato Núñez homered again, but the Orioles fell to 18-40 overall and 8-22 at home. They still can claim their first series since April 22-24 with a victory Sunday afternoon.
Hess didn’t record an out in the fifth inning, allowing a run and leaving with the bases loaded and the Giants ahead 4-1. Miguel Castro let all three inherited runners score on Belt’s two-run double and Evan Longoria’s sacrifice fly to raise Hess’ ERA to 7.36.
The streak of winless starts for Hess has reached 10.
Castro wasn’t charged with a run in three innings, retiring nine of 10 batters. The Orioles just didn’t have another big rally in them.
Posey’s opposite-field shot with two outs, the ball traveling 359 feet per Statcast and bouncing back onto the field to cause some initial confusion, was the 19th home run surrendered by Hess this season. He began the day tied with the Mariners’ Mike Leake for the major league lead.
Hess recorded 14 of his 17 outs in Denver via grounders or strikeouts. He kept the ball out of the air and maintained a 1-1 tie before the Rockies scored five runs in the sixth to ruin his outing.
The first batter he faced today, Joe Panik, lined out to left fielder Dwight Smith Jr. Mike Yastrzemski and Posey walked, Pablo Sandoval grounded out and Belt delivered a two-run single to right.
The Giants have been outscored 59-19 in the first inning. Hess, meanwhile, has allowed 12 runs in the first and third for his highest totals of any inning.
Hess threw 24 pitches in the first today, only eight in the second while retiring the side in order, 32 in the third while falling behind 3-0 and nine in the fourth while retiring the side in order. And we thought last night was weird.
He struck out two batters with his fastball in the third and retired another on a grounder, and all three outs in the fourth came on fly balls.
Acting manager Tim Cossins removed Hess after the right-hander threw 12 pitches in the fifth and surrendered a double and two singles and also walked a batter.
“Honestly with David, you can see in his starts there’s a period of time when he is in command and has bouts where he’s throwing the ball where he wants to throw the ball,” Cossins said. “For him, it’s about economizing his weaponry and pitching to spots that are going to get the results that he’s looking for. It’s going to come. Obviously he’s a talented kid. It just seems like there’s times the ball goes in locations that he wouldn’t want to or the result he would like. But he’s battling, working hard and all those things. Just trying to get it going.”
“There are some positives definitely, but overall it was not good enough,” Hess said. “The numbers speak for themselves on that. I thought we made some good pitches in some situations and they hit them and so really that says either we didn’t set them up well enough or the pitches themselves weren’t working as well as we needed them to today. Not really very happy with how it all went down.
“I think the biggest thing is just not falling behind in the count. When I was ahead in the count it made obviously pitching a lot easier, keeping them off balance a little bit more. I think that’s the biggest thing. And maybe some sequencing stuff. We’ll sit down and look at that and kind of figure out the details more in the next day or two. But really the thing that sticks out is pitching behind in the count. That’s always going to be problematic.”
Is the solution to stay in the rotation and pitch every fifth day?
“That’s a decision that’s really not up to me,” he said. “I’m going to do whatever they think is best for me. That’s who we have in place for that reason. So whether that’s here, whether that’s somewhere else, whatever it may be, my goal is to go out there every single day regardless if it’s in a game on the mound or in between starts just to get better and continue to work and just continue to grind it out.”
An offense that cranked out six runs in the first inning last night and nine for the game was stymied by right-hander Shaun Anderson, a rookie making his fourth major league start and his first on the road. He hadn’t exceeded five innings in his first three outings, but he worked through the seventh today with only two runs and five hits allowed.
Giants starters hadn’t completed seven innings in 40 straight games.
The Orioles managed one baserunner against Anderson through 3 2/3 innings, but Núñez cranked his seventh home run in the last 10 games and eighth in 12 to reduce the lead to 3-1.
Núñez leads the Orioles with 15 homers. The day began with Alex Bregman, George Springer, Eddie Rosario and Gary Sánchez tied for the American League lead with 17.
“He’s on fire,” Cossins said. “We saw a spurt like that early. He went through a downturn and has regrouped and come back really hot. He’s not missing pitches to hit.”
“It’s got to be the preparation I’m putting in before the games,” Núñez said. “I talk with the hitting coaches about the pitchers and how they’re going to work me. I have a plan and I keep that plan the whole game.”
Yastrzemski completed the scoring today with a sacrifice fly off Josh Lucas in the ninth.
Cossins’ first game as a major league manager didn’t produce the desired result, but he appreciated the opportunity to call the shots for a day.
“It was an unbelievable experience,” he said. “Anytime you can have an opportunity to do that, it’s a great opportunity. It’s something I’ll look back on forever and appreciate. Obviously the result weighed more heavily than the memory, at least for me.”
“It kind of felt a similar feel,” Hess said. “I think he did a really good job stepping in and kind of having a seamless transition with everything. It was a little different in that fifth inning when he came out. It kind of threw me off for a second, but no, I think he handled it and did a really good job with everything today.”