O’s game blog: David Hess starts series opener (game postponed)

The Orioles and Yankees hope to get their game in tonight at Yankee Stadium. But the tarp was on the field as game time was approaching, and tonight’s game will begin with a rain delay at the scheduled 6:35 p.m. starting time.

The Orioles’ starting pitching has been better in a recent stretch of games. Tonight, weather permitting, we find out if right-hander David Hess (1-4, 5.50 ERA) can keep that going versus a hot New York Yankees team that is closing in on first place.

Orioles starting pitchers rank tied for 11th in the American League with an ERA of 5.20. But that mark is 3.40 over the last seven games. And six of the 15 runs the starters have given up in that stretch were against one pitcher, Dan Straily, on Friday at Oriole Park.

O’s starters have just eight quality starts for the year. But they have four in the last seven games after producing just four in the first 33 games.

Hess-Exits-Gray-sidebar.jpgHess got off to a strong start to the 2019 season but has struggled lately. He threw 6 1/3 no-hit innings on April 1 at Toronto, in his first start of the year. He had a 3.32 ERA over his first four games. But in his last four, he is 0-2 with an 8.22 ERA. Over 15 1/3 innings, he has yielded 20 hits and 14 earned runs and has given up six homers in that span.

Hess has allowed 10 homers in 34 1/3 innings for a mark of 2.6 per every nine innings. In 2018, he allowed homers at a rate of 1.9 per nine innings.

Hess has thrown five innings or less in four straight starts, and the Orioles are 2-5 when he gets the start. In two games (one start) against New York this season he has thrown seven innings, allowing six hits and four runs. In three career games, he is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA.

At the 40-game mark the Orioles are 14-26 and last in the American League East, 10 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay. They are 6-15 at home and 8-11 on the road. They are 3-7-2 in 12 series and 2-3-1 in road series. The Orioles are 3-10 in series-opening games.

The Yankees (24-16) are just a half-game back of Tampa Bay for the AL East lead after taking two of three over the weekend from the Rays. New York has won six of eight and is 16-6 in its last 22 games. The Yankees are 13-9 at home, 8-3 versus the AL East and 4-2 against the Orioles.

Right-hander Luis Cessa (0-0, 3.32 ERA) will pitch for New York. He is in his third stint with the team, up from Triple-A. Over 14 innings he has given up 13 hits and seven runs with eight walks, 13 strikeouts and a 1.500 WHIP.

Ranked by Baseball America as the Yankees’ No. 2 prospect, Cessa has made three starts and New York is 0-3. He took the loss Wednesday versus Seattle, allowing four runs and six hits in four innings on 83 pitches. He has pitched once versus the Orioles. Last Sept. 21 in the Bronx he gave up two runs in 1/3 of an inning.

Lefty John Means got the win against the Angels on Sunday. Means has allowed no more than one earned run in five of his six starts. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the first pitcher to make his first six major starts for the Orioles and allow fewer than two earned runs in at least five of them since left-hander Steve Barber, who did so in five of his first six starts in 1960.

Means has allowed just 10 walks in 10 appearances, tied for eighth fewest in the American League (minimum six starts). According to Statcast, Means has induced 43 swings-and-misses on his changeup, most by a left-handed pitcher in the AL this season, and trails only Cole Hamels of the Chicago Cubs, who has 45.

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