Rays repeatedly hit David Hess hard, knock him out in third inning in Orioles’ 8-1 loss

Orioles right-hander David Hess took the slow walk off the Tropicana Field mound as Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day” echoed throughout the stadium. Hess’ outing Wednesday night against the Tampa Bay Rays matched up far closer to the song’s title than its status as a one-hit wonder.

The Rays pounded Hess in their 8-1 victory, striking for six runs in his two-plus innings. Hess faced 13 batters, with 11 putting the ball in play at more than 97 mph, nine smashing 100 mph drives, eight recording hits and none striking out. In all, Hess allowed an average exit velocity of 102.3 mph, the highest of any starting pitcher in the majors this season, per Statcast data.


“Just leaving balls over the middle of the plate,” Hess said. “I think it just kinda showed that that's not gonna play at this level. That's something that we know, and I tried to make some adjustments and just wasn't able to.

“When you're trying to work on stuff in the middle of a game with fans in the stands and the atmosphere of a baseball game, it's tough, but at the end of the day, that's not acceptable. I have to be better than that."


Three of those hits went over the fence. Brandon Lowe (Maryland) provided Tampa Bay an early lead with a three-run homer in the first inning, and Ji-Man Choi and Yandy Díaz ended Hess’ outing with consecutive home runs to begin the third.

After getting scratched from Tuesday’s lineup with an illness, first baseman Chris Davis was not among the starting nine that Orioles manager Brandon Hyde put together for Wednesday’s matchup with the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

The Rays (14-4) were unrelenting in dealing their damage. Reigning American League Player of the Week Austin Meadows began the bottom of the first with a 115.4 mph single. Choi followed Tommy Pham’s 102.3 mph flyout with a 97.1 mph single before Díaz lined out at 105.6 mph. Lowe then redirected a Hess changeup, sending it over the right-field fence with an exit velocity of 108.9 mph.

Tampa Bay added another run in the second inning when Kevin Kiermaier’s 105.5 mph double preceded Mike Zunino’s 98.5 mph RBI single. Willy Adames then doubled at 101.2 mph, which Meadows exceeded with a 104.2 mph liner into a shifted Baltimore infield; shortstop Richie Martin snared it and threw to third for a double play as Zunino jogged toward home. The inning ended on Pham’s 86.1 mph flyout, the softest contact Hess allowed.

Choi and Díaz cranked their homers at 107.3 and 107.9 mph, respectively. Orioles manager Brandon Hyde made his way to the mound to pull Hess, cueing the song that defined the right-hander’s outing.

“Just wasn’t his night,” Hyde said. “They were on every pitch.”

After not allowing any home runs in his first 9 1/3 innings of the season, including 6 1/3 no-hit frames against the Toronto Blue Jays in his first start, Hess has given up seven in his past 11 2/3 for the Orioles (7-12). His past three starts, those following the no-hit bid, have seen him post a 9.24 ERA.

Hess believes his stuff hasn't changed much since his Toronto outing. It's more about his mechanics allowing him to properly use said stuff.

"I think it's the same stuff that I performed well with then, and I think it's the same stuff that'll get back on track soon,” Hess said. “When everything's lined up like that, we know how fun it can be out there, and when it's not, it shows that it can go the other way, as well."

The Orioles relievers faced similar trouble. The Rays finished with 16 batted balls of at least 100 mph, nine of which went for extra-base hits.

Orioles catcher Austin Wynns, who was rehabbing an oblique injury with Double-A Bowie, has been reinstated from the injured list and optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.

Cossins ejected

Between Choi and Díaz’s homers, there were some fireworks between the Orioles dugout and home-plate umpire C.B. Bucknor.

During Díaz’s at-bat after Choi’s solo shot in the third inning, Bucknor turned toward the third base visitors’ dugout and issued an ejection, though it prompted confusion from the Orioles. Field coordinator Tim Cossins, who handled managerial duties after Hyde was ejected Monday against the Boston Red Sox, was ejected for seemingly arguing about Bucknor’s strike zone, one that led to three looking Orioles strikeouts in the top of the inning. But Hyde was standing in front of Cossins in the dugout and seemed to believe Bucknor instead ejected him, though he was unsure why.

“He pointed in our dugout, and I didn’t know what he was pointing at,” Hyde said. “It looked like he was pointing at me, and I was asking who he was pointing at. He kept pointing at me, so I went out there and wondered what was going on. There were some things that happened before that. Yeah, we had some frustration, some disagreements on some things and ironed it out.”


TV cameras caught Cossins in the dugout repeatedly saying, “I said it,” toward Bucknor, trying to clarify the confusion. Four pitches later, Díaz homered.

After the game, Orioles infielder Jonathan Villar acknowledged some frustration with Bucknor’s strike zone.

“That guy, sometimes he's calling good, sometimes he calls one spot, sometimes he calls away all the time,” Villar said. “He misses sometimes, his spot to the plate. We're not perfect. So it's all right. Next time, he'll maybe call it good.”

Ruiz’s shot ends Rays’ shutout bid

The Rays’ opener strategy proved effective Wednesday, with Ryne Stanek striking out three around a Dwight Smith Jr. double and Yonny Chirinos cruising through five one-hit innings as the Orioles went six innings without a run.

But Rio Ruiz smashed the shutout bid and a Wilmer Font fastball in the seventh, sending a projected 375-foot shot over the right-field fence for his second home run.

Ruiz also walked against Chirinos in the fourth, the Orioles’ first free pass among their first 47 plate appearances in the series. The Rays also broke out a four-outfielder alignment for Ruiz’s at-bat in the ninth; he struck out to end the game, one of 13 Orioles strikeouts.

“They’ve done a really nice job putting together a pitching staff that there’s a lot of plus stuff coming out of the ’pen,” Hyde said. “You’ve got to bring your lunch pail. You’ve got to be able to grind.”

Recommended on Baltimore Sun