David Hess pitched a halfway decent game for the Baltimore Orioles this evening. In fact, he pitched one out short of a quality start. The issue of course was that Hess and the Orioles were facing the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Boston makes their home park work for them – and against you. Hess’ line: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 3 K.
Those aren’t perfect numbers. But as I said, if you’re going by the letter of the law it’s one out shy of a quality start. The goal for any starter is to put your team in a position to win the game. Did Hess do that tonight at Fenway Park? My personal opinion is that he did.
Hess was cruising along until Benintendi smacked a solo homer in the third inning. It counts, but it barely cleared the Green Monster. Boston always takes advantage of every little bounce at Fenway, and those bounces normally go their way.
This isn’t to say that Boston has an advantage of any sort – per se. Both teams play on the same field with the same dimensions. They just naturally know the ballpark better, and everything that comes with it. That includes wind currents, bounces, etc.
As an example, Bogaerts smacked an RBI-double in the fourth. It came with Moreland on first base; Moreland ran from first base as soon as he saw the trajectory of the ball. He knew it was going to hit off the top of the wall, giving him plenty of time to score from first. Most other parks, you end up with runners and the corners in that situation. Not Fenway.
Nunez’s RBI-single (also off the green monster) later in the inning would run the score to 3-0. But this shows why pitching at Fenway can be so difficult. There are so many funny bounces and hops the ball can take. Heck, and if it gets into the corner and starts rattling around out there, you never know what’s going to happen.
But there is a silver lining to this. And that’s that the O’s fought back. Dwight Smith Jr. smacked a two-run homer in the seventh, cutting the Boston lead to 3-2. However Boston would tack on a few insurance runs in the later innings, running the score to 6-2 going into the ninth. Keep in mind who the opponent was/is; Boston has some big bats in it’s lineup. But while they hit the ball hard, they didn’t slug the Orioles out of the ballpark. Their runs came in drips as opposed to droves.
The O’s would mount a late rally in the ninth, getting to within 6-4 on a two-run homer by Eduardo Nunez. But while the rally fell short and the O’s ultimately fell by that score, that was a big deal. Following the homer Boston brought in it’s closer, Braiser. He had already warmed up and sat back down once Boston was no longer in a save situation. But he had to get ready again, and in a hurry at that. Something along those lines could affect the Boston ‘pen for the remainder of the series. Time will tell.
Again, not a horrible outing by David Hess tonight. It’s tough to limit Boston to anything at Fenway. (Or anywhere for that matter.) he did a pretty decent job of it, as Boston runs trickled in. This as opposed to coming in an avalanche. Pitching at Fenway however isn’t for the faint of heart. Opposing pitchers often get the bounces that Hess did tonight. It’s part of what makes the AL East so tough.
The series continues tomorrow at Fenway Park – with an immediate quick turnaround in the form of an early day game after a night game. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Rick Porcello. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.