A few notes on Hess, Núñez, Hall and Thome

The Orioles are now 50 games under .500 at 36-86 after Friday’s 2-1 loss at Cleveland. The Orioles are 15-46 on the road with 17 losses in their last 20 away from Oriole Park.

With 40 games to go, the Orioles would have to go 27-13 to avoid 100 losses.

Hess-disappointed-gray-sidebar.jpgDespite another loss, right-hander David Hess pitched well enough to win and that was a positive development. He recorded his first quality start since June 7 and his fifth on the year. After an extended stretch of tough starts, Hess may be trying to turn a corner. He’s allowed five runs in 11 2/3 his past two games. He gave up a two-run homer in the first last night and nothing else after. It was a gutsy 97-pitch outing against the AL Central leaders.

The Orioles now have 53 quality starts as a staff. Yet they are 23-30 in those games. You shouldn’t have a losing record in such games. But an offense that didn’t support its starting pitchers most of the year and a leaky defense have made it a tough year to be an Orioles starting pitcher.

Speaking of starters: Delmarva lefty DL Hall is a pitcher on a real solid roll right now and has been for some time. Last night versus Charleston, he went five innings allowing four hits and two runs with one earned run. Hall lowered his season ERA to 2.21 in 20 games.

It was the 11th straight start since June 10 where Hall has allowed one or zero earned runs. He’s thrown six scoreless starts in this stretch with an ERA of 0.87. In this span he has thrown 51 2/3 innings, allowing 32 hits and five earned runs with 22 walks and 61 strikeouts.

Hall was taken No. 21 overall by the Orioles in June of 2017 out of Valdosta (Ga.) High School. This past June the Orioles selected prep right-hander Grayson Rodriguez No. 11 overall from Nacogdoches, Texas. He has a 1.65 ERA in eight games in the Gulf Coast League. This was the first time in Orioles history that the club selected high school pitchers with its top pick in back-to-back years.

By the way, Delmarva posted a come-from-behind 4-2 victory Friday night as Jean Carlos Encarnacion hit a three-run homer in the eighth. Encarnacion blasted a 3-1 pitch out to left. He hit the ball 109 mph off the bat and it went 434 feet. It was his second homer as a Shorebird and 12th overall on the year.

Speaking of homers: Thanks in large part to third baseman José Ramírez, the Cleveland Indians lead the American League with 27 homers in the first inning. The Orioles rank fifth with 21. Ramírez hit a two-run shot last night off Hess for Cleveland’s only runs. It was his 13th homer in the opening inning this year and he has 34 RBIs as well. He leads the majors in both categories. Mike Trout is second in the AL with nine homers in the first inning. Manny Machado had eight while he was with the Orioles. Among players still on the Baltimore roster, Adam Jones is first with four.

Thome time: The Indians will honor new Hall of Famer Jim Thome in a pregame ceremony today at Progressive Field. Thome spent 13 of his 22 big league seasons with Cleveland and was named on 89.8 percent of ballots in his first year of eligibility. Thome ended a long career with the 2012 Orioles and played for the O’s in the playoffs that season, going 2-for-15 against Texas and the New York Yankees.

Thome was a guest on the MASN telecast last night and talked about his brief time as an Oriole. On June 30, 2012, he was traded from Philadelphia to Baltimore for minor league catcher Gabriel Lino and pitcher Kyle Simon.

“I loved playing with those guys,” Thome said of the 2012 Orioles. “They were all professionals and I think it started with Buck. He set the tone for his players. The other thing is it is an iconic city for baseball. Baltimore to me is like St. Louis. There is a tremendous fanbase. Look at the history of players that have come through Baltimore for years and years. That tradition will keep going because of how special and valuable it has always been for baseball.”

The walking man: Why is Orioles third baseman Renato Núñez drawing walks all of a sudden? Núñez has not been a big on-base guy, with a career .321 OBP in the minors and .306 in the majors. But not only has he been hitting pretty well in 22 games since joining the Orioles, but now he is drawing walks too.

In his first 15 games as an Oriole, Núñez walked one time. Last night, he walked twice for the third time in seven games. In those seven contests he has walked nine times in 29 plate appearances.

After Núñez hit .167 earlier this year in 13 games with the Oakland A’s, he’s now batting .284/.376/.432 with the Orioles. And that is with him going 0-for-6 the past two games. Núñez is hitting .190 versus lefty pitchers, .321 versus right-handers ,and .333 in 15 games in August.

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