Orioles starter David Hess needed to find his Jeckyll again. After not allowing a hit through 6.1 innings in his first start of the year, he lost three consecutive decisions. In those loses, the “Hyde” Hess allowed seven home runs and 13 runs in only 12.2 innings.
Hess appeared to be back on track against the White Sox early Monday evening. He struck out two of the first three batters he faced, and only needed 10 pitches to retire the side in the top of the first. Seven of those pitches were strikes.
The righty remained efficient his first time through the order. He sat down three straight Chicago batters in the second, and only allowed one single in the third. Hess one upped himself in the fourth with a five-pitch inning.
The Orioles failed to take advantage of Hess’s heroics early on (We’ve reached the point where four scoreless innings can be referred to as “heroics.” If you don’t agree, just take a peak at Baltimore’s bullpen), but things began to heat up in the bottom of the fourth.
Renato Nunez worked a leadoff walk, and he advanced to second on a drag bunt single by Hanser Alberto. Stevie Wilkerson attempted to lay down a bunt of his own, but failed to move the runners up. With one out, Rio Ruiz singled to center to load the bases.
Pedro Severino stepped up, and, for some reason, became the third Oriole to attempt a bunt in the inning. Severino pulled back, but Nunez had strayed far too far from third base. White Sox catcher James McCann fired a snap throw to third to pick off Nunez, and Severino eventually struck out looking to end the inning. The Orioles squandered an opportunity to snatch the lead and some momentum.
Baltimore failed to break the tie, but the game did not stay scoreless for long. Tim Anderson led off the fifth with a double to left, and advanced on a pass ball by Severino. Hess walked former Orioles prospect Nicky Delmonico to put runners at the corners.
McCann nearly got the Sox on the board by fighting a ball the other way. However, the ball landed just right of the foul line, and Hess appeared to dodge a bullet. As it turned out, he would have been better off giving up the single.
McCann fouled off multiple pitches before driving a slider deep to left field for a three-run home run. And just like that, things fell apart. MASN’s Jim Hunter noted that the Orioles had surrendered 22 home runs when hitters had two strikes. That leads the league, and it’s difficult to watch.
To be completely honest, the Jeckyll and Hyde analogy probably doesn’t work very well. One start isn’t enough to justify that type of back-and-forth. Hess has the ability to keep teams off the scoreboard, but he can’t keep the ball in the ball park. The 25-year-old allowed another run before exiting after five.
The Orioles got one run back via a Trey Mancini RBI double with two outs. Gabriel Ynoa, making his first appearance this year, pitched a scoreless sixth to keep Baltimore in the game.
Neither Tanner Scott or Miguel Castro pitched a complete inning, but the two combined for six earned runs. The White Sox plated four runs in the seventh and followed it up with four more in the eighth. Richie Martin committed two errors at shortstop that ended up costing Baltimore, and the wheels fell off the wagon.
There’s not a lot to say about the Orioles bullpen. There’s some talent in there, but no one that inspires a great deal of confidence. Scott struck out a career-high five batters his last time out, but he just didn’t have it tonight. Inconsistency is a part of development, but it’s not a fun one.
The Orioles were forced to bring in Jimmy Yacabonis when Castro could not escape the eighth, but Brandon Hyde didn’t want Yacabonis to work multiple innings. Instead, he turned to Jesus Sucre, a catcher, to pitch the ninth.
The Orioles have now sent three different position players to the mound this year, and it’s only April. Sucre joined Davis and Alberto as Birds who have pitched in the young season. It may be fun to watch, but it’s an indictment on the Orioles bullpen. For what it’s worth, Sucre retired Leury Garcia, Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu in order while working in the mid-to-high 60s.
Severino knocked a solo shot over the fence in the ninth inning to add the Orioles second run. The Orioles could have used that swing in the bottom of the fourth. Severino, Mancini, and Ruiz all finished 2-4 on the night.
Hess appeared on pace to give the bullpen some rest, but Baltimore needed it’s catcher to pitch the ninth inning. It’s amazing how quickly things can change. The Orioles have now lost the first four games of the homestand. They’ll look to bounce back tomorrow evening with Andrew Cashner on the mound.