For Baltimore Orioles manager Brandon Hyde, the trip from the dugout to the mound in the seventh inning was unbearable — and not because his starting pitcher David Hess was losing it. In fact, the Orioles were leading by six runs at the time over the Toronto Blue Jays.
No, Hess had been performing brilliantly and had matters well in hand. That’s why the walk was a tough one.
Hess was in the process of throwing a no-hitter at Rogers Centre Monday night against the overmatched Blue Jays, his only blemish being a walk to Billy McKinney in the fourth inning. He had struck out a career-high eight batters, had throw only 82 pitches and appeared to be on the cusp of his first no-no.
But no-hitter or not, after getting Brandon Drury to line out sharply to shortstop for the first out of the seventh inning, Hess had was approaching the pitch-count his team had set for him that night.
So despite his flirtation a no-hitter, one of baseball’s more storied pursuits, Hess was got the hook out of deference to his future well-being.
The Orioles, who were leading 6-0 at the time, hung on for a 6-5 win over the Blue Jays.
“That was a terrible walk,” Hyde said of that moment when he went out to get Hess. “I hated to do it, but for David’s health and one of, hopefully 30-plus starts, it was the right thing to do.”
Hess admitted he initially could not believe it when he saw his manger hop out of the dugout at that juncture of the game, when he was just eight more outs from no-hitting the Blue Jays.
“I was shocked because I knew my pitch count was decently low and so really it was just trying to figure out what was going on,” Hess said. “And so when he came out it was him basically just saying, throwing 40 pitches the other day, trying to keep health the primary thing, and knowing it’s a long season.
“I could tell that he really was fighting against himself a little bit because I think the excitement was there. But that’s a lot of respect toward him, just having that mindset, that thought process, that means a lot to me.”
Hess was replaced on the mound by Pedro Araujo and he promptly walked Justin Smoak before he surrendered Toronto’s first hit of the game, a two-run home run off the bat of Randal Grichuk.
Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said that his team’s spirits were lifted a bit to see Hess exit when he did because he had been so dominating.
“Kind of,” he said. “I understood their move, he got to his pitch count, you don’t want to get anybody hurt in April. Also, the guy that came in was wild so he started walking people and it got our offence going.”