The 2019 Orioles have lost a lot of games. They will lose a lot more before all is said and done this season. Although every loss is a unique display of failure, their losses tend to fall into one of two broad categories. There are the games where they rope you in and get you thinking this might be one of the few games where they win. Sunday afternoon’s loss to the Angels was one of this type of game.
Then there are the games where, right away, the Orioles do you a favor and let you know, “This is stupid.” Monday’s 8-1 loss to the Padres was this latter kind. With the game starting at 10:10pm Eastern, it was a true kindness to everyone who needs to get up and go to work the next day that they announced, promptly and unquestionably, that nothing good was going to happen.
Many things occurred in this game. A lot of them were bad for the Orioles, as is their way. None sum up the game so well as this: Starting pitcher David Hess, summoned from the minors just to make this start, began his night by giving up two home runs in two pitches. If you watched this with disgust and thought you had never seen that before, you’re not wrong.
The Baltimore Sun’s Nathan Ruiz noted this “two home runs in the first two pitches” feat had not ever happened to the Orioles before, nor had it ever been achieved by the Padres before. That’s the 2019 Orioles for you. They are truly, madly, deeply dedicated to making home run-related history. No barrier erected by man or nature will impede them in their quest.
After three innings of pitching, Hess was perfect except for those two pitches. He set the next nine Padres batters down in order following the first inning homers to Fernando Tatis Jr. and Franmil Reyes. This was just long enough to wonder if he might have settled down after early miscues - and then, because 2019 is 2019 and Hess is Hess, the “settled down” theory was shot down.
Former Orioles superstar Manny Machado opened up the bottom of the fourth inning with a triple. This was his first triple of the season. Machado did not have to stand long on third base, as former Royal Eric Hosmer blasted the second pitch he saw over the fence in right field.
After picking up two outs, Hess faced Padres second baseman Luis Urias, who entered the night with an 0-21 streak and no home runs in 48 at-bats. Urias made the score 5-1 with his first home run of the season.
Hess’s early season pitching saw him giving up home runs at a mind-boggling pace. His month’s banishment to the minor leagues meant that he surrendered the team lead in home runs allowed to Dylan Bundy, who’s served up 23 taters this year. Hess entered the night with 21 homers allowed in 68 innings. I can’t stress it enough: Even in this juiced ball, launch angle, homer-happy era, Hess is giving up dongs at an unreal pace.
With four homers allowed in 4.2 innings here, Hess is back on top with 25 dingers given up. He has gotten the Orioles almost 10% of the way to setting the team record for home runs allowed - currently 258 by the 2016 Reds - just by himself, and in only 72.2 innings.
The occasion of the Orioles trailing by at least a grand slam and a starter not finishing the fifth inning set in motion a chain of events leading to Dillon Tate, called up during the Angels series, making his MLB debut in the seventh.
Tate wasted no time being inaugurated into the traditions of this Orioles team. Two pitches into his MLB career, he hit a batter. Tate then got a grounder hit by Machado that Richie Martin couldn’t get out of his glove in time. The Statcast expected batting average on this ball was .150. With two on and none out, Tate allowed Hosmer’s second homer of the game, a second deck shot. When the ERA is still infinite after three batters, it ain’t good.
From there, Tate retired six of the next seven batters with three strikeouts. If only you could take out the homer, it might not be so bad. Maybe we can chalk it up to nerves. If he isn’t demoted for a fresh pitcher before he can get to pitch again, we could find out soon what Tate can do when he doesn’t have those debut jitters. As a team, the O’s have now given up 205 home runs, and they will set that record even if they only allow one home run per remaining game.
The Orioles batters were not blanked in this game, though they might as well have been. They had just seven hits in the game. Two of them came in the third inning, when they were able to score their lone run with Anthony Santander’s RBI single. Another two came in the seventh, when they could not turn a two-out rally into any runs.
In the top of the ninth, the O’s loaded the bases with one out thanks to Padres reliever Robbie Erlin being unable to find the strike zone. Erlin walked Martin, gave up a single to Jonathan Villar, and walked Trey Mancini to load the bases. This was Mancini’s second walk of the game. Chris Davis pinch hit for the pitcher and struck out on five pitches without ever swinging his bat, then Renato Nunez grounded out to shortstop to send everybody home.
It’s looking likely that the O’s have lost Dwight Smith Jr. for a more extended period in this game. Smith pinch hit in the pitcher’s spot in the seventh inning and got a single. He appeared to aggravate the calf injury that’s had him out of the starting lineup for two games while running down to first and immediately exited the game.
This O’s loss combined with a Tigers win against the Angels pulls the O’s back within two games of Detroit for the #1 pick in next year’s draft.
The two-game series concludes Wednesday afternoon with a scheduled 3:40pm game. The Orioles have a chance to secure their first non-losing month since August 2017, if they are able to win the finale. Tom Eshelman is set to start for the O’s, with Dinelson Lamet getting the ball for San Diego.