One of the fastest runners in baseball, Jorge Mateo dashed from second and rounded third on Cedric Mullins’ bases-loaded line drive to center. A couple of defensive miscues from the Chicago White Sox had started the Orioles’ ninth-inning rally, and another would allow them to tie Sunday’s series finale at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Instead, center fielder Luis Robert smoothly caught Mullins’ stinger and shortstop Tim Anderson handled the throw back to the infield, prompting Mateo to stay at third as Adley Rutschman scored from third to cut the Orioles’ deficit to one. It remained there, with Trey Mancini striking out with the potential tying and winning runs on base to end Baltimore’s four-game winning streak in a 4-3 defeat.
“We were one short tonight,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We stay in it. Guys are getting down the line, putting pressure on defense. Liked the way we were running the bases hard.
“We gave them a run there at the end.”
That it was even that close is a testament to how the Orioles (34-40) have played of late, given how much of the game went for them. White Sox right-hander Dylan Cease struck out a career-high 13 batters in seven innings and scatted four hits, one of them a solo shot by Jonathan Araúz for his first hit with Baltimore.
Orioles starter Jordan Lyles also covered seven frames, though he dealt with much more traffic among his 111 pitches. He allowed a two-run home run to Gilman product Gavin Sheets, son of former Oriole Larry Sheets, in the second inning and single runs the next two innings before providing three straight scoreless frames, getting help from a diving play in center from Mullins. The four runs Lyles surrendered matched the total the rest of the pitching staff allowed since he exited his previous start Tuesday.
After Araúz’s home run, the Orioles didn’t threaten again against Cease until Rutschman fruitlessly doubled in the seventh, the rookie’s 12th extra-base hit in his past 14 games.
“He’s got some of the best stuff in baseball,” Lyles said of Cease. “Unfortunately, I was pitching against him today. He was much better than I was.”
Added Hyde: “That’s elite stuff. I was happy we got four hits off him.”
With Cease out, the Orioles pieced together offense against Chicago’s bullpen. They put two on for third and fourth hitters Anthony Santander and Austin Hays against Joe Kelly in the eighth, with both representing the tying run, but Santander grounded out ahead of a Hays strikeout to end the inning.
White Sox first baseman José Abreu made a pair of errors to begin the ninth, first dropping a throw from Anderson before fumbling Rutschman’s grounder. A Mateo walk loaded the bases, and Araúz drove in his second run of the day with a single. After Rougned Odor struck out as a pinch-hitter, Robert chased down Mullins’ sacrifice fly, a ball with an expected batting average of .550, according to Statcast. With the potential tying and winning runs still on base, Chicago right-hander Kendall Graveman struck out Mancini to end the game.
The loss prevented what would have been Baltimore’s first four-game road sweep since 2011. Still, they settle for a series win against a White Sox team that, though middling, won the American League Central a year ago. The Orioles are 13-10 in June and can secure their first winning month in five years by taking at least one game during their upcoming series in Seattle.
“It’s been really hard, you know?” Hyde said before the game. “A lot of these guys have been through some really tough times, and you want to see them have success, you want them to feel success, and there’s only a few guys in our clubhouse that have ever won in the big leagues. Until you’re here, you don’t understand how hard it is, and it’s hard enough to be here and it’s really hard to lose, and I give our guys a ton of credit for keeping their head up, for staying driven, for playing their butts off every day like they have for me the last few years, and I think we’re starting to see guys really improve because of it.”
First went far
Araúz became the first Oriole to homer for his first hit with the club since Keon Broxton in 2019. Broxton’s, at Colorado’s Coors Field, went a projected 474 feet, the longest home run an Oriole has hit since 2016. Araúz’s came after Cease struck out six of the first seven Orioles.
“I actually got more motivated,” Araúz said of the early strikeouts through team interpreter Ramón Alarcón. “I wanted to get on base. I wanted to help my team. I wanted to be able to decipher him and just be a contributor.”
Claimed off waivers from the Boston Red Sox earlier this month, Araúz, 23, was playing in his second game for the Orioles after being called up Saturday. The switch-hitter figures to get time around the infield, playing third base Sunday after starting at second Saturday. In the bottom of the eighth, he started an impressive double play to prevent Chicago insurance runs.
The ninth-inning single gave him four balls put in play at 90 mph or harder in his first two games with Baltimore.
“My mission here is to help my team, help them accomplish a win,” he said.
Around the horn
>> Right-hander Kyle Bradish, on the 15-day injured list with right should inflammation, said he has “no doubt” he’ll be activated once eligible. Manager Brandon Hyde said it will hopefully be around then, but the club needs to see him back on a mound first.
>> Mancini was in the lineup at designated hitter after taking a pitch to his left hand Saturday. Odor didn’t start a game in the series as he dealt with a sore back.
Monday, 10:10 p.m.
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