The Orioles summoned rookie right-hander David Hess from Triple-A Norfolk to face the American League’s best offense Sunday at Fenway Park. Shutting down the Boston Red Sox, who have perhaps the top batting order in the major leagues from top to bottom, was a daunting task, and Hess was taught some valuable lessons in the Orioles’ 5-0 loss to the Red Sox.
All five runs Hess allowed over 4 2/3 innings were scored on home runs. After the game, the 24-year-old said it was a fine line between success and allowing those three home runs balls, and that it was something he’d definitely learn from going forward.
“The whole series, if you look where we’re trying to throw the ball and where it ended up, that’s why it ends up where it ends up,” manager Buck Showalter said. “If you go back through, and we have, all those pitches, they’re just mistakes. We’re not getting the ball where we’re supposed to get it in the right sequence.”
Hess earned another start after posting a quality start in his major league debut in Game 1 of the doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 12 at Camden Yards. He was sent to Triple-A Norfolk after the game, didn’t pitch in Norfolk and was recalled for Sunday’s start before serving the mandatory 10 days in the minors because he was exempt as the special 26th man for the May 12 doubleheader.
“Anytime they give me the ball, I want to go out and give them a chance to win,” Hess said. “That was the biggest thing. Not being able to do that today is what hit hardest. Definitely looking forward to kind of getting into a routine. You always like that, but that’s pitching. You go out there and how you’re able to adjust makes a difference at the end of the day.”
Hess started off well Sunday. His fastball played well overall; he drew seven swinging strikes and seven called strikes on the pitch. But Hess allowed two homers to J.D. Martinez, who is tied with teammate Mookie Betts for the major league homer lead with 15.
“Their offense is doing some big things over there right now,” Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini said. “Martinez with two home runs, pretty much the whole series, the way he goes opposite field and drives the ball that way is really impressive. He’s the type of guy who is hard to pitch to, but I thought David pitched well and just kind of in that last inning, they had some big hits against him.”
Even in a loss, Hess showed he wasn’t afraid to attack with his fastball. He doesn’t hesitate to pitch inside and, for the most part, he was able to limit the damage before a two-homer, four-run fifth inning.
“Same things we liked about him,” Showalter said. “Shows that last couple of years. He’s been on the map since we drafted him. Tough kid. Ain’t afraid.”
The first homer came on the first pitch of the second inning, a fastball that was aimed middle in but fell low and in, where Martinez is 7-for-11 this season and slugging .909. Martinez was able to send the pitch the other way for an opposite-field homer inside the Pesky Pole in right.
Hess then allowed four of the first five batters reach base in the fifth, the big blows coming on two-run homers by Andrew Benintendi and Martinez.
After working Benintendi up in the zone, Hess threw a fastball middle in that the left-handed hitter turned on and sent over the right-field fence. Two batters later, he threw middle in to Martinez, but again Martinez was able to barrel the ball, hitting it over the 420-foot sign just to the right of center field.
“He’s a pretty astounding guy sometimes,” Hess said of Martinez. “I went back and looked at film afterwards. The way he was able to deal with those balls was impressive. I think it’s something to put in memory and move forward and go from there. The Benintendi home run, I think I hit my spot where I wanted to. Just not quite the execution that we were looking for. It was a good pitch. It was what we wanted. He just beat us on it.”