Hess picks up a quality start and win - and shows serious moxie - in MLB debut - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Hess picks up a quality start and win — and shows serious moxie — in MLB debut

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Call it an important baseball lesson for young David Hess – or anyone else who takes a major league mound for the first or 100th time.

The guys you are facing can hammer the baseball a long way. But keep pounding the strike zone and good things can still happen.

The 24-year-old Hess made his big league debut Saturday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Rays and, after retiring the first batter he faced, allowed two singles and then a three-run homer to Matt Duffy.

The Orioles were down 3-0 in the first – we’ve seen that before – and the former fifth-round draft pick in 2014 was on the ropes.

He allowed another single to the next batter, then got out of the jam with a ground out and his first big league strikeout (of Mallex Smith).

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“After that home run I felt like everything kind of slowed down a bit, so I think without realizing it, there might have been some (nerves),” Hess said. “But after that I kind of settled in and felt like I was able to make the pitches I wanted to make.”

There was a point in the first that Hess could have unraveled. He could have started pitching timidly – his fastball sat at 92-93 mph much of the afternoon – but he kept pounding the zone with pitches that were moving aplenty.

He did the very un-Oriole-starter like thing of continuing to attack instead of nibbling. And it worked – long enough for the Orioles to knock Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer around for a 6-3 victory and the club’s fourth consecutive win.

“You have to have that conscious mindset of pound the zone and attack those guys because if you keep them on their heels a little bit more, it gives you a better chance to be more effective, gives your defense a chance to work,” Hess said. “And as you know, we have a real good defense.”

There was a concern that because Hess threw 84 pitches in seven shutout innings Tuesday for Norfolk, that pitching on short rest on such an adrenaline-filled day would be a problem. It wasn’t.

From the second until the sixth inning in the early game of Saturday’s doubleheader, Hess allowed two hits – and no other baserunners. He only struck out three, but he walked none. He threw an incredibly efficient 78 pitches, and 56 were strikes. That’s 72 percent of the pitches Hess threw that were on target. Pretty darn phenomenal.

Frankly, his outing was an oversimplification of what you need to do as a big league pitcher. Pounding the strike zone and letting the defense do the work is a lot harder than it seems. There has to be plenty of confidence in one’s ability to make it happen.

“A lot easier said than done,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Sometimes, you get a little bit too much in there, but he made a lot of quality pitches with his fastball. He got the ball down a little bit after that first inning, got some early outs in early counts. We were going to take him between 70 and 80 (pitches). We were watching pretty closely there in the sixth.”

The point is here, Hess pitched with confidence. With aplomb.

It would have been an impressive, resilient effort from a veteran. It was a hat-tipper and hand-clapper for a guy in his first appearance at this level.

There was a whole lot of clapping and cheering going on from the dozens of friends and family that showed up to root on the kid who grew up in Tullahoma, Tennessee — population 19,000 — and now was a major leaguer.

“It’s pretty crazy. I know you guys are probably aware that I had a lot of family here. Getting everything organized and situated with that was a lot of fun,” said Hess, who doled out hug after hug in the stadium tunnel following his performance. “Everyone was cooperative, the staff here, and everybody’s been great. It’s been a really exciting process and experience, something I’ll never forget.”

Now, let’s not get too carried away. It was one outing for Hess. Plenty of guys have ambushed teams in their debuts only to have reality strike later on.

And the Rays aren’t exactly an offensive juggernaut. They’ve scored 10 runs in their current five-game losing streak.

Yet, this is what faced Hess, whose best tool might be his off-the-charts makeup – some think he might be too nice of a guy to be a hardscrabble big leaguer – and this is what he did with it:

Six innings, six hits, three earned runs, no walks, three strikeouts.

A quality start. A big-league victory. And, most important, an impressive show of moxie – and strike-throwing – when he could have fallen apart.

Call it a hunch, but I think we’ll see the 6-foot, 220-pound righty from Tennessee Tech on the Camden Yards mound again. Soon.

 

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Creatively09

    May 12, 2018 at 5:56 pm

    Congrats to Hess who had a cheering section behind home plate for him. Chalk the first inning up to nerves and you got 5 high quality innings behind it. I’m not saying to print the playoff tickets just yet, but if he can do this with regularity we at least have a middle of the rotation guy for the foreseeable future.

  2. TxBirdFan

    May 12, 2018 at 6:08 pm

    Congratulations to Hess on a fine outing, and an even bigger congratulations to the O’s for giving him some runs to work with, taking some of the pressure off. Regardless of the caliber of the opponent, it is the pro’s and it’s nice to string together some wins against anyone, and do the things a big league club is supposed to do. Dilly Dilly!

  3. Mau

    May 12, 2018 at 7:09 pm

    O’s have started to hit. Even Davis. For him 0-4 with no strikeouts is hitting, but seriously he’s coming around. Maybe it’s the weather after all Bancells.

    Hess won but this 1st inning thingy even affects newcomers. It’s like a whammy or something, a pox if you will.

    Hess, Scott and Givens saved the day for the pitching staff going again now. Great job.

    • Mau

      May 13, 2018 at 10:17 pm

      Not to pat myself on the back or anything but dang, 17 runs, 19 hits. That’s hittin.

  4. Bancells Moustache

    May 12, 2018 at 9:56 pm

    It’s just one start, but that was a breath of fresh air. How this guy was put on the mound for 84 pitches three days ago, when everyone on the planet not named Showalter knew Tillman was a dead man walking tells you all need to know about the sorry state of affairs in the Warehouse

  5. ATCguy

    May 12, 2018 at 11:11 pm

    “He did the very un-Oriole-starter like thing of continuing to attack instead of nibbling.”

    EXACTLY!! I was thinking the same thing watching the game. Oh that some other members of the staff would take notice and do the same.

  6. Jbigle1

    May 12, 2018 at 11:55 pm

    Great start Hess. Hopefully he can hold down the 5 spot. He should be given every opportunity. Mike wright can be DFA’d now. There’s no chance he’ll throw the Ball well in Baltimore. It won’t happen. He can’t even pitch mop up innings.

  7. Bmore_Os

    May 13, 2018 at 2:30 am

    Good outing from Hess. Earning a QS in his mlb debut was fun to watch.
    The key for Hess was not only his ability to hit the zone, but his ability to not hang balls over the middle of the plate. I feel as if that is pitching 101, but the rotation seems to be struggling with it ((especially in the first inning (seriously, the first inning has been brutal this year)))

  8. jkneps63

    May 13, 2018 at 10:53 am

    CONGRATULATIONS TO THE BALTIMORE ORIOLES for achieving the pinnacle of playing 0.300 baseball!

    Go 12-8 over the next 20 and (gasp) you will be playing 0.400 baseball!

    Move to the AL Central and your in the race!!!

    Pete, Dan, Buck – please keep Hess in the rotation! Haven’t we seen enough of Yacabonis and Wright?

    • BunkerFan

      May 13, 2018 at 11:56 am

      Hess should take the place of Tillman. Maybe lower back issues are at the root of his recent problems. He has had some issues in the past. Hopefully it’s curable. I’m also concerned about having these guys in the pen. Yacabonis doesn’t seem like he has the stuff or the stamina to be a starter. And I’m really to pull the plug on Wright and try to get him through waivers. But who replaces them? First of all, Tanner Scott should absolutely stay. Then I would replace Wright with Tim Melville on the 40 man. He has been a successful starter in AAA and could definitely be give lots of innings as the long man in the pen. Donnie Hart also seems to have found his touch again. And maybe Yacobonis will if they give up trying to make him a starter. Of course we have Hunter Harvey waiting in the wings, but it’s too soon.

  9. BunkerFan

    May 13, 2018 at 11:49 am

    I still think Cobb should have made a half dozen starts in the Minors before bringing him up. Almost all of the starters who signed late this Spring are having difficulties. Lynn has look terrible in Minnesota…but Vargas, another possible target for the O’s, has been truly awful. You just can’t rush a pitcher through SP…or avoid it completely and expect success. He’s been getting better with almost every start but most of these starts should have come in MiLB and not the Show. Also time to send Santander to AA or AAA…good work keeping him. But he’s not MLB ready. Will be some day. Replace him with either Rickard or Presley and bat them leadoff. Mancini’s obvious power is wasted leading off. Again, we should have made more of an effort to sign an on base guy like Dyson or Cain or even Jay.

    • Jbigle1

      May 13, 2018 at 10:24 pm

      Cobb would have had to agree to take those starts. There’s no way he would’ve been fine with spending over a month in the minor leagues to get ready. We didn’t want him pitching with the minor league ball either. That’s just not a realistic scenario. In a perfect world we would’ve signed him for the same exact contract a month earlier, as we likely could have.

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