Hess' 6 1/3 no-hit innings lead O's by Jays

April 2nd, 2019

TORONTO -- Orioles right-hander David Hess carried a no-hitter into the bottom of the seventh inning on Monday night against the Blue Jays in Toronto, before being removed from the game by manager Brandon Hyde after throwing 82 pitches.

Hyde knew by the fifth inning that the difficult decision was coming, and he wasn’t looking forward to it. The Orioles had a pitch count in mind for Hess -- one they extended given his performance -- and even though Hyde took no joy in making the move, he knew that this was about more than one game in April.

“That was a terrible walk. I hated to do it,” Hyde said after the game. “For David’s health, and for one of hopefully thirty-plus starts, it was the right thing to do.”

Hess threw just 42 pitches in his first outing of the season -- a 2 2/3-inning relief appearance on Opening Day against the Yankees. The first batter Hess faced in the seventh, Brandon Drury, ripped a line drive with an exit velocity of 104 mph to the left side, but shortstop Richie Martin was well-positioned to make the play and keep the no-hitter alive. The O's eventually took the matchup, 6-5.

“I was shocked,” Hess said. “I knew my pitch count was decently low, so I was kind of more just trying to figure out what was going on.”

Pedro Araujo took over in relief and, after walking Justin Smoak, gave up a two-run home run to Randal Grichuk to finally end the no-hit bid. Despite the obvious desire to chase the no-hitter, Hess understood at the time why Hyde had to make that “terrible walk.” After the game, he echoed his appreciation for his new manager.

“A lot of respect towards him, just having that mindset and that thought process,” Hess said. “That means a lot to me.”

Hess showed signs of a velocity bump on Opening Day and carried that over into Monday’s start, averaging 93.8 mph with his four-seam fastball, and reaching as high as 95.8 mph. That’s a significant change from 2018, when Hess averaged 91.9 mph, and allowed 13 of his 22 home runs on that pitch.

The majority of Hess’ fastballs worked up in the zone against the Blue Jays, who carried over their free-swinging ways from their opening series against the Detroit Tigers. Hess’ eight strikeouts were a new career high for him in the Majors.

“He pitched ahead in the count. He was ahead of almost every hitter,” Hyde said. “He got early swings and I thought all of his pitches were working. He was hitting 95 mph a lot; a really good breaking ball and a split change. Just not a whole lot of hard contact, because he was working ahead in the count with so many defensive swings. Just incredible.”

Despite the shorter outing four days ago, Hess was able to work deep on Monday, thanks to a very efficient start. He needed just nine pitches in the first inning, then seven and 12 in the next two frames, respectively, leaving him at just 28 pitches through the first three innings. Hess worked the edges more as his start went on, but filled the zone early, and managed to produce plenty of harmless contact from the Blue Jays.

Before taking over as the Orioles’ manager, Hyde was with the Chicago Cubs for both of Jake Arrieta’s no-hitters in 2015 and 2016. Having heard the cheers at the end of those games, Hyde completely understood some scattered boos from the fans at Rogers Centre who hoped to witness history.

“If I was sitting there watching, I’d probably want to have the guy stay in there also because I know how cool it is,” Hyde said. “I’ve been in the dugout for two of them, so it wasn’t fun for anybody.”