The Orioles kicked off Saturday’s doubleheader against the Rays by doing something that they have not done since 2009: Having a pitcher making his MLB debut being caught by a rookie catcher. David Hess, called up to be the 26th man for the doubleheader, got his big league welcome with Chance Sisco behind the dish. When all was said and done, the Orioles won their fourth game in a row and Hess picked up the win in his debut as they beat the Rays, 6-3.
Although he ended up collecting a quality start, things did not start off so great for Hess. Like many Orioles pitchers before him, he gave up a bunch of runs in the first inning. The Rays snuck a pair of one-out singles through the infield before cleanup hitter Matt Duffy blasted a home run to send the O’s to an early 3-0 hole. For Duffy, who spent some time on the disabled list this year, it was just his second homer of the season.
The MASN cameras pointed out the Hess cheering section as the game was getting underway. You had to feel for them a bit, especially when Brad Miller followed the home run with a single to make four of the first five batters reaching base. The ingredients were all there for a brewing disaster and an unceremonious return to the minors for Hess.
That’s what it seemed like, then everything was OK. After getting the rough first inning out of the way, Hess settled in, putting the Rays down in order in three of the next five innings he pitched. The two innings where he had baserunners, there was one single each and that was that.
Put that all together and it adds up to a quality start for Hess: Six innings, six hits, three runs, no walks, three strikeouts. I’m going to say it again because it makes me happy: No walks! It took Hess just 78 pitches to get through six innings.
The Orioles did not push Hess beyond that because he was starting the game on short rest, having just pitched for Norfolk on Tuesday. As fate would have it, that last game came against the Rays Triple-A affiliate, Durham.
The Rays were certainly ready to attack Hess from the get-go. It showed in that first inning. They kept on attacking him. It just stopped working. Good for Hess! Though he was added to the roster for the doubleheader only, Buck Showalter told reporters that Hess would be auditioning to stay up for longer as well. There is a spot open with Chris Tillman’s “back injury” putting him on the disabled list. Hess made a decent case for himself.
In case you’re curious, the last time the O’s had the debut pitcher-rookie catcher battery it was Brian Matusz and Matt Wieters on August 4, 2009. It didn’t go so well on that day, with Matusz giving up five runs in 2.2 innings.
Going up against Chris Archer would have been a bad sign for Orioles hitters in many past years. The Rays starter has struggled to open up 2018, though. After going down in order in the first inning on just seven pitches, the O’s got their licks in against Archer starting in the second inning.
Jonathan Schoop led off the inning by taking Archer deep, Schoop’s second home run of the year. Fellow recent DL returnee Mark Trumbo renewed the rally with a one-out single. The O’s very nearly tied the game on the next batter, as Sisco came only an inch or two away from a home run into the O’s bullpen. It was still a double and Trumbo scored from first to make the score 3-2.
On a fly ball to right field, Sisco aggressively tagged to make it to third base. This is the kind of thing that won’t matter most of the time. As it turned out, this isn’t most of the time! Third baseman Jace Peterson walked to turn the lineup over, giving the O’s men on first and third with two down. It would still take a hit to bring the run in...
...or something weird, like a double steal. No, I’m not making that up. Peterson took off for second base and Rays catcher Jesus Sucre threw to try to catch Peterson. The throw was high and Peterson slid in safely. As soon as Sucre committed to the throw, Sisco dashed home. The catcher stole home! This was Sisco’s first career stolen base, and more importantly for the O’s, it meant that the game was tied.
They didn’t wait very long to break the tie. With Schoop picking up a homer, his buddy Manny Machado couldn’t resist getting in on the party either, leading off the third inning with his 13th home run of the season. That ties Machado for the MLB lead at this writing. Oh, and with Machado having homered, Schoop decided to one-up him, going back-to-back with Machado and unleashing a dugout celebration. I’m going to miss seeing those two do their thing.
After Hess got through six innings, Tanner Scott and Mychal Givens combined to polish off the Rays over the last three innings. Givens allowed just a hit over the final 1.2 innings and picked up his first MLB save in the process.
The O’s actually were out-hit by the Rays in the game, 8-7. They made their hits count for more, with four of the seven being for extra bases, including the three home runs. Trumbo and Schoop both had multi-hit games, with Trumbo continuing to hit well since returning from the DL.
That’s four wins in a row for the Orioles. They’ll look to add a fifth as they continue the single-admission doubleheader against the Rays later on Saturday. Alex Cobb and Matt Andriese are the scheduled starters for the nightcap.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Game 1 on May 12, 2018?
This poll is closed
David Hess (quality start, win in MLB debut)
Jonathan Schoop (2-4, pair of solo home runs)
Mark Trumbo (2-4, now batting .341)
Chance Sisco (double, stole home)