For four innings Monday night at Camden Yards, it seemed as if Orioles right-hander David Hess had rediscovered whatever he had working for him on the month’s first day in Toronto. The fifth frame, though, looked more like the three weeks since.
Hess cruised through four one-hit innings against the Chicago White Sox before running into trouble and barrels in the fifth inning of the Orioles’ 12-2 defeat. Needing only 44 pitches to get through four innings, Hess struck out three of the first four batters he faced and retired the first seven overall before Yolmer Sánchez grounded a single to the left of second base, a spot vacated with the Orioles shifted to the right side. That was Chicago’s lone base runner through four innings as Hess evoked memories of his April 1 start against the Toronto Blue Jays, when he pitched 6 1/3 no-hit innings.
But the fifth inning Monday matched the styling of Hess’ three starts that have followed, appearances that featured seven home runs allowed and a 9.24 ERA.
It began with a double by Tim Anderson on an elevated slider, but it wasn’t the last Hess threw. After Anderson took third on a passed ball and Nicky Delmonico walked, James McCann redirected a slider that found too much of the zone for a 1-2 count, sending it a projected 421 feet as the three-run shot broke a scoreless tie. It was the eighth home run allowed by Hess this season, tied for the most in the American League, and the 40th the Orioles have given up at Camden Yards in 2019.
“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,” Hess said. “That’s something you can’t do in that situation and so not ideal results, but those first four were good.”
The White Sox were not done with him. José Abreu punctuated the inning with an RBI single at 108 mph.
Yonder Alonso’s subsequent lineout ended Hess’ 32-pitch fifth inning. He needed only five pitches in the fourth, after which the Orioles failed to score despite loading the bases with one out.
“I think that he’d just like to have a pitch back, to be honest with you,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “It was a 0-0 game, ground ball, double play out to get out of the inning, and hangs a slider. We don’t recover offensively and have some tough innings after that, and the game gets way out of hand. David threw the ball well, just made a bad pitch to kind of turn his outing.”
Hess finished with 76 pitches Monday as the Orioles fell to 1-10 at Camden Yards.
“The right things are happening and the right things are in place to where those things will turn around,” Hess said. “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.”
Heads up to heads down
On a day the Orioles sent down a youngster struggling offensively but producing defensively in center fielder Cedric Mullins, another doing the same, shortstop Richie Martin, showed the give-and-take of an aggressive defensive approach.
The positive came in Hess’ troublesome fifth. Two batters after McCann’s home run, Ryan Cordell doubled. He then tried to take third on a grounder to Martin, but the Rule 5 draftee promptly shifted his footing and threw to third baseman Hanser Alberto for the fielder’s choice.
A similar play ensued in the seventh. With two more Chicago runs already home in the inning on an Abreu home run off Tanner Scott, Alonso doubled, then headed toward third when Anderson grounded to Martin. This time, Martin rushed the throw, which sailed above Alberto as Alonso came home.
Martin, who also had a hard grounder slip between his legs for an error in the sixth, went 0-for-4 at the plate and is hitting .167 in his rookie season.
“Richie just had a tough night defensively because he’s been so good all year long, and those games definitely happen, and he’s going to have another one like that,” Hyde said. “He’s going to have a couple like that. That’s just part of playing for six months. Those things happen. First weeks of the year, Richie’s defense has been spectacular, kind of a couple tough plays tonight. His confidence won’t be shaken by it. He’s been really good.”
Mancini, Severino stay hot
Trey Mancini entered Monday second in the American League with 15 extra-base hits. He added another with two outs in the fifth inning, this one an RBI double to score Jonathan Villar. His single in the opening frame also gave him 11 first-inning hits, the most in the majors.
Pedro Severino kept his hot bat going as well, homering off spring Oriole Josh Osich in the ninth. He has homered in three straight starts.
Another position player pitches
Miguel Castro had another rough outing, allowing seven base runners and four runs while recording only two outs.
Castro has a 9.26 ERA in 2019, having allowed 12 runs in 11 2/3 innings despite a high-velocity fastball and filthy breaking pitches.
“Miggy’s trying,” Hyde said. “It’s not from lack of effort. It’s not from lack of work beforehand. It’s not from how bad he wants it. It just didn’t happen today.”
Castro’s rough outing pushed Chicago’s lead to 12-1 and prompted Hyde to use a position player to pitch the ninth for the third time in 11 home games.
Jesús Sucre delivered, pitching a 1-2-3 inning in his sixth career pitching appearances. It was the 12th time in Orioles history a position player has pitched; 25 percent have come in 2019 as Sucre joined Hanser Alberto on April 7 against the New York Yankees and Chris Davis on Saturday against the Minnesota Twins. Sucre said he volunteered to pitch after Hyde initially asked Alberto.
“It’s tough,” Sucre said. “We’ve been having tough games the last couple days. I’m here to help my guys. I kind of picked my guys up today a little bit.”
Hyde said the Orioles don’t plan to make a roster move to add a pitcher for Tuesday’s game.