ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Through three major league starts, the Baltimore Orioles have seen glimpses of David Hess’s promise and also what he’s trying to learn to survive big league lineups. Both were on display in the Orioles’ series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night at Tropicana Field.
Sure, there haven’t been many exciting moments during the Orioles’ difficult season, and yes, Hess is just three games into his major league career. And if this struggling club had better options, he’d probably still be fine-tuning his game at Class AAA.
But that shouldn’t take away from Hess’s performance Friday night, when he threw 6 ⅔ scoreless innings against the Rays in a 2-0 Orioles win.
With the victory, the Orioles (17-34) have won back-to-back road games for the first time since April 5-6. It was just the Orioles’ fourth win in 29 games this season when they’ve scored three or fewer runs.
Hess allowed four hits, with just two of those coming after the first inning, while walking three. He struck out three, but worked aggressively to get ahead in the count — Hess threw 15 first-pitch strikes to 24 batters faced — and kept the ball in play to let his defense work behind him.
His fastball, which induced six swinging strikes, played well, and he was able to use his slider off it to also draw six swinging strikes.
Hess (2-1) had several opportunities to falter in the low-scoring game, but the Rays ran into three outs, including once in the first inning when the rookie picked Brad Miller off second after a leadoff double. Catcher Andrew Susac also threw out Mallex Smith and Joey Wendle attempting to steal second and third, respectively.
Hess ran into trouble in the fifth when Smith drew a leadoff walk and moved to third on a balk and an error — a pickoff attempt at second that went through second baseman Jonathan Schoop’s legs.
But Hess held Smith at third, inducing three groundouts in the inning.