The Orioles came into Thursday night’s game having lost their last eight games against the White Sox. They were 0-7 against the Southsiders in 2021, and their last win versus Chicago came in 2019. Clearly, the problem was that those Orioles teams did not have Adley Rutschman.
The former No.1 overall pick put together a game to remember against the White Sox as he propelled the Orioles to their second straight shutout win.
Adley opened the scoring in the fourth inning with a truly majestic, two-run home run to right field. The smooth follow-through from the left side of the plate gave “Ken Griffey Jr. in the Home Run Derby at Camden Yards” vibes. Statcast projected the homer at 402 feet, and it felt like one that would’ve had a chance to hit the warehouse on a hop if it was in Baltimore. It was a home run everyone should see in all its glory.
The face of the future and present (with his extremely questionable mustache) was not done there. In his next at-bat, he laced a double down the right-field line to drive in Austin Hays. Coming in batting .306 with a .915 OPS in his last 10 games, Rutschman decided to one-up himself by having the best game of his young career. The three RBIs were a new career-high for the backstop and it was his second career game with multiple extra-base hits. At this rate, surely we will get a game next month with multiple grand slams from Adley. That is how progression works, right?
Starter Dean Kremer was once again sharp for the Orioles, going 5.2 innings of scoreless baseball while working around seven hits and striking out four. It was Kremer’s second straight start not allowing a run, after going six scoreless innings in his previous start against Tampa. Maybe the most encouraging sign from Kremer: he was visibly upset when informed that the coaching staff was considering pulling him after five innings. At 73 pitches, the Orioles’ staff was clearly just trying to protect their young starter’s arm, but Kremer wanted a chance to go back out. The third-year righty got his way and picked up the first two outs of the sixth. This is precisely what you want from your starting pitchers, a fire to keep competing, and Kremer showed that all night long.
Just because it was another scoreless outing, does not mean that Kremer avoided trouble completely. He worked out of a two-on, two-out jam in the first inning, then stranded a runner at second in the second. Austin Hays—fresh off his record-setting cycle—helped his pitcher out as well, throwing out Gavin Sheets at the plate to end the fourth inning. Kremer gave way to Felix Bautista in the sixth inning after giving up a double and a walk.
Overall on the night, the outfield defense was excellent. After showing off his arm in the fourth Hays made a ridiculous diving catch in the eighth to rob Jake Burger of extra bases. Mullins then ended the same inning by gliding into the right-center gap to take away a double from Sheets. Throughout the evening, it seemed like wherever the White Sox hit it, Mullins and Hays would find it.
Back to Kremer for a second: so far this season Kramer had relied on his fastball to get most of his outs, throwing the heater 51.5% of the time. However, Thursday was a different story. The biggest key to Kremer’s success was his ability to locate his cutter—especially low and away to right-handed hitters. During one sequence in the third inning, Kremer worked back from a 2-0 count against Jose Abreu by throwing three straight cutters low and away—striking out the former AL MVP. Kremer himself has said that his cutter is more of a cutter/slider hybrid, and he definitely used that slider-type movement to his advantage Thursday night.
The bullpen also deserves plenty of praise for preserving the shutout. Bautista struck out Seby Zavala to end the threat in the sixth inning, and then followed it up with two more strikeouts in the seventh. Dillon Tate was then summoned to work the eighth, striking out AJ Pollock and then benefiting from the plays of Hays and Mullins to get out of the inning unscathed.
A Cedric Mullins RBI single in the top of the ninth meant that Tate got to start the ninth as well—as it was no longer a save situation at 4-0. However, after allowing two base runners, Tate gave way to Jorge Lopez for the final two outs. Lopez struck out Tim Anderson and Andrew Vaughn to convert his 12th save of the season. The 3.1 scoreless innings from the pen lowered their season ERA to 3.14, good enough for sixth in all of baseball.
Mullins and Mountcastle also deserved a shoutout for their offensive performance. Mullins went 2-5 with the RBI for the late insurance run. Mountcastle launched his 15th and 16th extra-base hits of June with doubles in the second and fourth—finishing the game 3-4 with a run scored on the homer.
The Orioles went over three years in between wins in Chicago. Let’s hope, after Thursday’s win, they only need about 24 hours to get their next W. With Rutschman, Mullins, Hays and Co. anything seems possible.
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