Tim Cossins’ first pitching change as a major league manager came in a less-than-ideal situation, walking out to the Camden Yards mound toward a starter amid a dreadful stretch, the home team already down three runs and the bases loaded with no outs.
Cossins’ managerial debut, with Orioles manager Brandon Hyde in Chicago for his daughter’s high school graduation, was a sour one as the San Francisco Giants won, 8-2, to even their three-game series at Camden Yards. Cossins, the Orioles’ fielding coordinator and catching instructor, was managing for the first time since doing so in the then-Florida Marlins’ minor-league system in 2007.
Right-handed starter David Hess (1-7) struggled yet again, as the no-outs, bases-loaded situation he left for Miguel Castro resulted in more mess. All three runners came around to score, leaving Hess with seven earned runs in four-plus innings to bring his ERA to 7.36.
In his 10 starts since holding the Toronto Blue Jays hitless across 6 1/3 innings April 1, Hess has an 8.68 ERA, with the Orioles (18-40) going 1-9 in those games.
“There are some positives, definitely, but overall, it was not good enough,” Hess said. “The numbers speak for themselves on that. I thought we made some good pitches in some situations and they hit them, and so really that says either we didn’t set them up well enough or the pitches themselves weren’t working as well as we needed them to today. Not really very happy with how it all went down.”
Consecutive one-out walks in the first, to former minor league teammate Mike Yastrzemski and Buster Posey, came back to burn Hess when Brandon Belt cleared the Orioles’ infield shift with a two-out, two-run single. In the third, Posey homered off the railing of the right-field flag court, sliding into second after the ball bounced back into play before getting to trot home. It was the major league-leading 19th home run Hess has allowed, snapping a tie with the Seattle Mariners’ Mike Leake for the most in the majors.
The first four Giants reached in the fifth to end Hess’ outing. Castro got his first batter, Pablo Sandoval, to line out, but surrendered a two-run double to Belt. Evan Longoria tacked a final run on Hess’ line with a sacrifice fly.
Making Hess’ outing more strange was that he pitched with ease in the innings between his troubles. In the second, he needed eight pitches to bounce back from his rough first. His fourth inning required nine pitches. But he threw 67 total in his other three frames.
“You can see in his starts that there’s a period of time where he is in command and has bouts where he’s throwing the ball where he wants to be throwing the ball,” Cossins said. “I think for him, it’s about economizing his weaponry and pitching to spots that are gonna get the result that he’s looking for, and it’s gonna come. He’s a talented kid.”
While an Orioles pitcher has had trouble getting out of an extended slump, one of Baltimore’s batters has ended one to be among the league’s best hitters for the past couple of weeks.
Renato Núñez continued his hot stretch, homering for the eighth time in 12 games to reach 15 on the season. Before this recent powerful run, his average had fallen to .211 after a 14-game run in which he went 3-for-47. But with the homer and a single Saturday, Núñez is hitting .386 in his past 12 games.
“I just go out there and try to hit the ball hard,” Núñez said.
With 15 home runs through the Orioles’ first 58 games, Núñez is on pace to hit 42 home runs.
“He’s on fire,” Cossins said. “We saw a spurt like that early, and he went through a little bit of a downturn for a second and then has regrouped and came back really hard and he’s not missing pitches to hit and giving himself a chance.”
His latest blast supplied Baltimore’s first run off Giants starter Shaun Anderson, whose only other damage allowed came on Austin Wynns’ RBI single in the fifth. Anderson gave up only the two runs in his seven innings, ending a 40-game stretch since a San Francisco starter last completed seven innings.
The Giants added their final run when Yastrzemski, the Orioles’ 14th-round pick in 2013, hit a sacrifice fly in the ninth.