After two tough series against the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays, a weekend series against the Baltimore Orioles was supposed to be just what the doctor ordered.
While the Orioles are not as bad as their 32-39 record indicated, they are still a last-place team on the road against a so-called championship contender. Taking three of four against them was expected. Instead, the White Sox looked lifeless and uninspired. Each game seemed to get more embarrassing than the last.
Their offense, which had turned a corner in June, reverted back to their April ways. In 27 innings, the White Sox scored just three runs against an Orioles pitching staff that ranks 21st in baseball in ERA. The Orioles staff have also given up 52 home runs on the road, the most of any MLB team in 2022. Yet entering Sunday’s series finale, the White Sox have gone 195 bat-bats without a home run.
Thursday night, the White Sox bats were shut out 4-0. Adley Rutschman pounded the White Sox for a career-high three RBIs and hit his second career home run. While the Orioles did play superb defense across the outfield, the White Sox squandered countless opportunities.
Leury Garcia hit a two-out single to shallow right field in the fourth inning. White Sox’s third base coach, Joe McEwing, waved home Gavin Sheets from second, and he was gunned down at the plate easily by Austin Hays. It was one of the White Sox’s nine hits on the night that didn’t result in any runs scored. In total, the White Sox stranded 23 runners.
The White Sox were able to push across a run on Friday night, but somehow, the offense’s performance was even more pathetic than the night before. The Orioles opted to go with a bullpen game. Their starter, Austin Voth, entered the game with an 8.39 ERA.
AJ Pollock drew a walk in the second inning. Jake Burger then drove him home with an RBI double two batters later. Not only would that be the only run the White Sox scored, but it was also their only hit. In nine innings, they registered one hit despite having an offense that features a former MVP, batting champion, and multiple All-Stars.
There was a benches-clearing incident early in the game after Michael Kopech hit Jorge Mateo with a 99 mph fastball. The two exchanged words before the benches spilled onto the field. It was a moment that could have provided a spark for the White Sox. Instead, the final 19 hitters were retired in order.
Reese McGuire and Kopech also did a terrible job holding on runners, as the Orioles ran roughshot all over them, stealing five bases in six innings.
Saturday’s game was yet another clown show. Lance Lynn was solid through six innings, only allowing two runs and giving the White Sox a chance to win. Lynn struck out eight batters and recorded 23 swings and misses. However, the offense could only produce one run via a Luis Robert single and a Jorge Mateo fielding error. Gavin Sheets got thrown out at second base trying to steal a base. The ball bounced up into catcher Robinson Chirinos mask yet he wass somehow still able to throw out Sheets with ease.
In the seventh inning, Lynn ran into trouble. With two outs and a runner on first, he walked Mateo. He then induced weak contact to Cedric Mullens, but Mullens reached on an infield single. With the bases loaded, Lynn hit Trey Manchini to bring the deficit to 3-1. Tony La Russa decided he had seen enough and opted to bring in Jose Ruiz with the game in the balance.
Ruiz has a 2.135 WHIP at home this season and has allowed 21 hits and 16 walks in just 17.1 innings of work at Guaranteed Rate Field. Not the best option when you have Joe Kelly available. But La Russa told reporters he was saving Kelly for the eighth inning. Kelly did not pitch the eighth inning because Ruiz ensured that the game was blown wide open.
Austin Hays ripped a double off the wall, which cleared the bases, putting the White Sox in a 6-1 hole. With the loss, the White Sox clinched yet another losing homestand, making it five straight losing homestands in a row. After taking three in a row from the White Sox, the Orioles captured their first four-game winning streak for the first time since 2020.
“It goes to show you can’t take any team for granted, Reese McGuire said after Saturday’s loss. ” You got to come ready to play every day.”
The White Sox have suffered injuries. Key players such as Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson, Andrew Vaughn, and AJ Pollock are all under specific trainer instructions to slow it down if they hit into a routine out. It is not an ideal scenario.
However, every team goes through injuries. Injuries do not excuse a lack of effort, lousy defense, and boneheaded base running. The Orioles now have more wins than the White Sox this season. At some point, you are what your record says you are. The White Sox’s 33-37 records tell the story. This is a mediocre baseball team right now.
Tony La Russa’s squad has hit rock bottom. One would think it could only go up from here.