In the final game before the All-Star break, the Orioles and White Sox played a tightly contested matchup at Camden Yards. Baltimore starter Spenser Watkins didn’t make it past the fifth inning but he only allowed one run, and Andrew Vaughn powered Chicago’s offense with a pair of homers.
Right off the bat this afternoon, the Orioles outfield defense came up big. Watkins retired the game’s first batter, but Yoan Moncada walked and Jose Abreu golfed a bloop single into shallow right field.
Then the Birds got a double play. Brian Goodwin lined out to right, and Moncada tested Austin Hays’ arm by tagging up from second. It didn’t end well for Moncada, with third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez applying the tag early after a perfect throw from Hays.
In the home half of the first, Cedric Mullins led off with a perfectly-placed bunt single down the third base line, offering a glimpse of his 2020 batting approach. The Birds jumped ahead with the next batter Austin Hays, who followed that stellar outfield assist by flashing his power on a two-run opposite field bop. 2-0, Baltimore.
There was also a scary moment at the plate when Ryan Mountcastle took a 97 mph fastball to the left forearm area. The O’s first baseman stayed in the game and ran aggressively on the base paths, taking second on a pitch in the dirt and advancing to third when White Sox catcher Seby Zavala’s throw went into center field. Mountcastle was removed between innings after looking uncomfortable during warmups at first base. It’s a good thing he’s got four-plus days in a row to rest and get healthy.
Still, Baltimore’s defense continued to excel. With no outs and a runner on first in the second inning, Gutierrez charged a bunt at third and bare-handed the ball before firing an off-balance strike to nab Leury Garcia at first. Later on, Watkins picked Adam Engel off second base.
Waktins worked himself into and out of trouble in the third, getting a line out from Goodwin with the bases loaded to end the inning. The Orioles’ starter struck out two batters in the frame and allowed a double and two walks.
Cedric Mullins stole his 16th base of the year after reaching via walk in the third. Is it crazy to envision a season where Mullins hits 30 home runs and steals 30 bases? If he maintains a similar pace in the second half, it’s not outside the realm of possibility. It’s going to be fun watching him in Tuesday night’s MLB All-Star Game.
The White Sox reached Watkins and got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth when Andrew Vaughn hit a solo homer that cut the Orioles’ lead in half, 2-1.
Manager Brandon Hyde removed Watkins from the game after a line out to Mullins to start the fifth. The O’s right-hander allowed one run over 4.1 innings with four hits, three walks, and four strikeouts. After three appearances in the majors, including two starts, Watkins has a 1.74 ERA.
Paul Fry came out of the bullpen and gave up a single to Tim Anderson before striking out consecutive batters to close out the fifth. The left-hander departed with runners on first and second and one out in the sixth. Hyde called on reliever Cole Sulser to end the threat but Vaughn hit his second home run of the game, a three-run shot that just cleared the fence in right. 4-2, White Sox.
Fry was charged with two earned runs in one inning of work, and Sulser was charged with one run in 0.2 innings. Lefty Tanner Scott pitched 1.2 scoreless frames before Tyler Wells took over.
Until the ninth inning, the Orioles’ had only two hits and both came in the first inning. White Sox closer Liam Hendriks struck out the first two batters he faced before McKenna singled to keep the Orioles alive.
It seemed like the O’s were content to rest Trey Mancini the day before the T-Mobile Home Run Derby, but then Hyde saw an opportunity for some practice. Mancini pinch-hit for Domingo Leyba and delivered an opposite field two-run home run in the clutch to tie the game at four.
Hyde stuck with Wells for the 10th and even visited the mound at one point without making a pitching change. After walking Moncada with a runner on second to start the inning, Wells got two outs in a row. But Adam Engel crushed a three-run home into the O’s bullpen to put the White Sox ahead, 7-4.
With Pedro Severino on second to start the bottom of the 10th, Kelvin Gutierrez singled to put runners on the corners. Mullins lofted a sacrifice fly to the warning track in right center, scoring Severino and bringing the O’s within two. After Hays walked, Anthony Santander lined out and DJ Stewart flied out to the warning track in center end the game.
Today’s 7-5 loss completes a three-game sweep at the hands of the White Sox as we enter the All-Star break. Baltimore will open up the second half of the season on the road Friday night against the Royals.