ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—The Orioles found the most painful way possible to lose their 100th game of this awful season. It began when David Hess, Saturday’s scheduled starting pitcher, was hit in the left eye by a thrown football by an unidentified quarterback during a conditioning drill.
In the actual game, Dylan Bundy managed a dubious team record when he allowed two three-run home runs, giving him 37 for the season. Bundy walked a career-high five batters in four innings, and four other pitchers combined to walk six more. The 11 walks were a season high. The Orioles struck out 15 times in the 14-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday.
Fortunately, Hess wasn’t seriously hurt. He made light of his accident by wearing an LSU football helmet in the dugout for a time. He was diagnosed with inflammation, but no abrasion. He was given anti-inflammatory eye drops and will make his start on Saturday.
“For me immediately, I was just trying to make sure I could see,” Hess said. “And once I could see, I knew I was OK. So that was good. But definitely something I’ve got to be careful with going forward.”
Hess, who said he was told to wear the LSU helmet, will continue to participate in the football throwing exercise.
“I think going out there and playing around, that’s just a part of being an athlete,” Hess said. “We want to go out and maybe toss around a football or a Frisbee or whatever. This is one of those times when kind of a freak accident happens, so I guess next time I’ve got to move my head or catch the ball.”
It was the second known Orioles injury caused by a muffed football. In February 2017, Michael Bourn, trying to make the team on a minor league contract, broke his right ring finger trying to catch a football and missed spring training.
Manager Buck Showalter did have to scratch Sunday’s starter, Alex Cobb, because of a recurring blister. Josh Rogers will replace him. It will likely be the final start of Rogers’ season.
Showalter said he didn’t plan to add any pitchers because he had a 10-man bullpen with the expanded roster.
Bundy continues to be puzzled by his performances. In his last seven starts, Bundy has a 10.67 ERA.
“I just really had no clue where the ball was going tonight and wasn’t executing my pitches,” he said.
Bundy said his level of frustration was “10 out of 10. Going through adversity is tough, but just to keep my head up, keep working in between starts and try to get better. I’ll figure it out…Mechanically, I can’t really find anything. I’ve put a finger on it too much. I think I’ve got to get better executing pitches and throw the ball with a little bit more conviction.”
Showalter said he wasn’t ready to end Bundy’s season.
“Not yet, not yet,”’ Showalter said. “It’s one of those things you get your arms around and take it day to day. We’ve got some off-days, and we’re going to do what’s best for Dylan and the Orioles, and it’s something that you consider with everybody this time of the year in our situation.”
Joey Rickard’s two-run home run accounted for the Orioles’ runs. Rickard has four of his eight home runs and 17 of his 23 RBIs against Tampa Bay.
Even though he’s had success against the Rays, Rickard is playing for a team that’s lost 100 for the third time in club history.
“Nobody likes losing, especially that many games,” Rickard said. “It definitely wears on you a little bit. We’ve got a good group of guys, and we lean on each other, and we continue to grind it out.”
Corban Joseph back
The Orioles added infielder Corban Joseph, younger brother of Caleb, to the roster, purchasing his contract from Double-A Bowie. Joseph had gone home to Tennessee after the Baysox season ended Monday. The Orioles had recalled Steve Wilkerson from Triple-A Norfolk, and though he met the club in St. Petersburg, he’s not ready to play because he’s still rehabbing a hamstring injury.
Joseph, who batted. 312 with 17 home runs and 68 RBIs for Bowie, was with the Orioles briefly in June, playing in four games. He was outrighted, and again added to the 40-man roster. He pinch-hit in the eighth inning and played first base.
Before this season, he played just two major league games and knew that 2018 was vital for him.
“I think everybody at a certain time in their career, they have to kind of do something a little different,” Joseph said. “This year, I knew I had to have a breakout year, being 29 years old, going on 30, it gets tougher and tougher. The game’s always evolving into younger players. I really tried to steal a couple more bases and do a lot better, laying down bunts, getting guys over and driving guys in.”
The brothers Joseph played just one game together in June, and Corban hopes there will be more before the season ends.
“It was a really cool experience hitting behind him that one game, and I’m really looking forward to that in the next couple of weeks,” Joseph said.
Showalter said that Joseph earned the promotion.
“That’s a reward for a great year,” Showalter said “He can hit. We’re trying to find out about him defensively.”
Wilkerson will wait
It’s been a year of waiting for Wilkerson. The utility player’s season didn’t start until he served a 50-game suspension because he tested positive for an amphetamine.
Wilkerson had two brief stints with the Orioles, going 4-for-17 (.235) with two RBIs, and landed on the disabled list July 2 because of a strained oblique muscle. After rehabbing the oblique, Wilkerson was sent to Triple-A Norfolk, and in the fourth inning of his first game, he sustained a hamstring injury.
Wilkerson hopes to play before the end of the season.
“It’s been an awesome year in a sense of it’s obviously my first time playing in the big leagues and it’s been great, but at the same time being on the shelf as often as I’ve been, I haven’t really had to deal with that at any other point in my career and it’s been very difficult,” Wilkerson said.
Trumbo surgery goes well
Mark Trumbo underwent surgery to repair cartilage in his right knee on Friday. The Orioles said the surgery, which was performed by team doctors Leigh Ann Curl and Michael Jacobs, went well.
“[They found] exactly what they thought, no complication, no surprises, and he’ll be close to be ready for the season,” Showalter said. “What they thought they’d be able to do, they did. He’s pretty upbeat about it.’
Estimated recovery time is six months.