Nobody wanted to see Orioles right-hander David Hess walk off the mound with one out and the Orioles up 6-0 over the Toronto Blue Jays in the seventh inning. He was working on a no-hit bid and he was pitching so efficiently that he probably could have stayed out there longer.
That’s probably why manager Brandon Hyde went out and got him when his pitch count was only at 82. Imagine the negative fan reaction if Hyde had to go out there with two outs in the eighth and pull the young pitcher when he hit the 100-pitch limit.
The Orioles are four games into the season and Hess is showing signs of being one of their top pitchers, thanks in part to the way he bought into the team’s new emphasis on analytics this spring. Leaving him out there too long and possibly taxing his arm this early would not have made a lot of sense for a team trying to amass and protect young talent.
Of course, it didn’t help that relievers Pedro Araujo, Mike Wright and Richard Bleier gave up five runs over the final 2 2/3 innings to turn a laugher into another dramatic ending. This was starting to look a little like the infamous Mother’s Day game in 2007 in which O’s manager Sam Perlozzo pulled Jeremy Guthrie out of a shutout in the ninth inning and the Red Sox came all the way back to score a devastating 6-5 victory.
This time, the tying run was at third base in the bottom of the ninth before Bleier struck out Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to secure the Orioles’ third straight victory.
So, all’s well that ends well. The O’s have played surprisingly competitive baseball on their opening road trip, already guaranteeing they will come home for Opening Day at Camden Yards with at least a .500 record.