BALTIMORE—For the first several weeks of the season, Brandon Hyde tried to put an optimistic front on the losing his new team was going through.
Now that the Orioles are nearly a third of the way through what has become a most challenging season for a first-year manager, Hyde is becoming more blunt.
Eager for his first major league managerial job, Hyde knew what he was getting into and that the years of winning as a coach with the Chicago Cubs were behind him. But the enormity of the task has become even more clear.
Shortly after he watched David Hess allow three more home runs and nine runs in total in an 11-4 Orioles loss to the New York Yankees on Tuesday night, Hyde acknowledged what everyone knows.
His team doesn’t have good enough players to compete with a team like the Yankees.
He left Hess in the game to absorb the nine runs in five innings because he didn’t want to exhaust his bullpen. The Orioles have allowed 10 or more runs in three straight games for the first time since June 10-12, 2017. Two of those games were against the Yankees, too.
“You’ve got to be able to execute up here and you’ve got to be able to execute against a major league lineup that can hurt you when you make mistakes,” Hyde said.
Gary Sanchez hit a three-run home run in the first, his 14th, and Clint Frazier had a two-run homer in the third and a three-run blast in the fifth.
The third home run was the 100th Oriole pitchers have given up in 48 games, which is the fewest games in which any team has reached the century mark and puts the Orioles on a pace to allow 338. That would shatter the major league record set by the Cincinnati Reds in 2016 when they gave up 258.
Hess has allowed 17 home runs in 45 1/3 innings. On May 15, in the first game of a doubleheader, Hess allowed five runs, four on homers. He hasn’t won in his last eight starts, and his record is 1-6 with a 6.75 ERA.
“The work that’s being put in there are things that are being addressed,” Hess said. “It just hasn’t shown so far out on the field and so from the lens I see it through, I really try to focus on the things that are positive and kind of take away a couple things to move forward with and then address the things between starts that we want to work on.”
Hyde was honest in his assessment.
“We’re facing good teams, but you’ve got to pitch here,” Hyde said. “You have to stay off the barrel, and you’ve got to be able to locate. And if you don’t, in a hitter’s ballpark against guys that mash, you’re going to give up 100 homers 40-something games into it.”
The Orioles’ loss was their fourth straight, their sixth four-game losing streak. Their record is 15-33.
“It is very draining just because there’s a clubhouse of guys in here that I care about a ton,” Hess said. “To have that feeling of not going out and getting the job done for them, just as much as anything else, that really does wear you down.
“But really that’s also the thing that keeps you going, knowing the culture that’s here, the guys that are here care about one another and they want to see me get through it just as much as I do. Really, without them, I think this would be a lot more difficult than it has been.”
Before starting pitcher Alex Cobb was put on the 10-day injured list on April 27, Hyde planned to move Hess to the bullpen. Cobb’s injured back has kept Hess in the rotation.
“We just don’t have the numbers, we don’t have the depth,” Hyde said. “I don’t like seeing guys get beat up.”
Hyde doesn’t have many alternatives. On Sunday, he tried Yefry Ramirez, but after he gave up six runs, five earned, in 3 1/3 innings against Cleveland in a 10-0 loss, the Orioles sent Ramirez back to Triple-A Norfolk.
The Tides’ best starter is probably left-hander Keegan Akin, who is 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA in eight starts in his first go-around at Triple-A. Another left-hander who’s already been with the Orioles is Josh Rogers, but his ERA with the Tides is 6.57 in seven starts.
Luis Ortiz, who was up for a day last month, but didn’t pitch, came to the Orioles from Milwaukee in the Jonathan Schoop trade. He has a 6.98 ERA in seven starts.
The Orioles could always try journeyman left-hander Sean Gilmartin, who spent the last two months of the season with the Orioles. He has a 2.49 ERA, but despite some major league starting experience, he isn’t stretched out and would be another bullpen arm.
If the Orioles are reluctant to expose Akin to the major leagues just yet, they might have to stick with Hess.
“It’s what we’ve got right now,” Hyde said. “It’s not from lack of effort or lack of competitiveness. I don’t like seeing guys get beat up and giving up homers, but they’re all getting the opportunity to bounce back from tough starts or our hitters from tough games offensively. But, yeah, we’re lacking depth.”
Domingo German, who’s now 9-1, won for the third time this season against the Orioles. German, who leads the majors in wins, was removed after five innings with the score 9-3.
Stevie Wilkerson’s three-run home run, his fifth, were the only runs given up by German.
David Hale pitched the final four innings for his first major league save.