A disastrous first inning didn’t faze the tenacious Orioles. They fought back from an early 4-0 hole, took on Cy Young hopeful Dylan Cease, and ultimately ran away from the home team White Sox, winning the rubber game 8-4 on Sunday afternoon.
There were doubts that this game would even get played. Temperatures dropped dramatically in the Windy City overnight, and there was precipitation in the area most of the day. A two-hour-and-twenty-minute rain delay pushed first pitch to 3:32 local time but they got all nine innings in.
Whether it was the delay or familiar rookie jitters, Grayson Rodriguez had a tough first inning. The Texas native just wasn’t executing. Breaking balls were left in the middle of the zone and fastballs were rarely going where he wanted either. Once again, his velocity looked healthy, but he was constantly behind in the count. That’s a bad position to be in against major league hitters.
All four of Chicago’s runs came on home runs. First, Gavin Sheets launched a bomb to right field, scoring Luis Robert (walk) and Andrew Vaughn (single) in the process. After striking out Eloy Jiménez, Rodriguez served up a long ball to Jake Burger, the third baseman’s third homer of the series.
WOW! Gavin Sheets and Jake Burger go yard! pic.twitter.com/TPBhlevC1T— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) April 16, 2023
Suddenly, this rubber game seemed headed in one direction. The Orioles were trailing, they had to deal with Cease, and it felt like a day where the bullpen would be needed early and often.
Instead, it turned into a developmental mile marker for Rodriguez. He got finer with his offerings. They moved to the boundaries of the strike zone, and he made the White Sox hitters work for their base hits. Fortunately, there wouldn’t be many of them. In his final four innings Rodriguez allowed just three base runners, all singles. So while his final line (5 innings, 6 hits, 4 runs, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts) won’t look great overall, it did feel like an important step forward for the young hurler.
On the offensive side, it took a while for the O’s to get a handle on Cease, but they did eventually break through in the fourth inning. Jorge Mateo drove in their first run of the day, a sacrifice fly to score Adam Frazier from third base. An error from Burger gave the Orioles runners at first and second before Cedric Mullins tripled to score them both, drawing the good guys within one run.
Mullins putting on the jets pic.twitter.com/JgHf8WURh6— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) April 16, 2023
Another manufactured run in the sixth inning tied things at four runs apiece. Gunnar Henderson walked, Mateo singled, and Mullins walked to load the bases. With Adley Rutschman at the plate Cease uncorked a wild pitch—a knuckle curve in the dirt—to bring home Henderson.
With Cease out of the game, the Orioles piled on the poor White Sox bullpen in the eighth inning. Mateo opened things up with a double. Ryan McKenna followed with a walk, and then Mullins singled to score Mateo. Rutschman worked a five-pitch walk to load the bases in front of Ryan Mountcastle. The O’s first baseman hit a hard line drive to left field that fell in, but it was tough for Mullins to judge, so he was forced out at third, but not before McKenna scored. Anthony Santander put the finishing touches on the frame, knocking in Rutschman with a base hit to right field.
The rain may have stopped but Ceddy's gonna turn on the faucet. pic.twitter.com/YsnPsrEg5u— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) April 16, 2023
The Baltimore bats had one more run in them, which came in the ninth inning. Henderson led off with a single, and then went station to station on two ground outs before Mullins knocked him in with a base knock to give us our 8-4 final score line.
All the while the Orioles bullpen was mowing down White Sox hitters. Mike Baumann snagged the win with two hitless innings in relief. Austin Voth followed with an encouraging perfect eighth inning, striking out two in the process. And then Félix Bautista was summoned in a non-save situation to record the final three outs, which he did with relative ease.
There was plenty of reason to think this game was doomed from the beginning, but the Orioles did well to battle back and earn a deserved series victory over an admittedly flawed White Sox squad.
Mullins had a great day at the plate, getting on base four times and driving in four runs. The Orioles need the table to be set for Rutschman more often, and getting Mullins on track will go a long way towards making that happen.
Related to that was a nice performance from Henderson. He worked his daily walk, but he also recorded two hits and didn’t strike out. The rookie is going to K from time to time. That’s just part of his game, but he needs to put the ball in play more often, and that’s exactly what he did today.
And don’t look now, but the Orioles top two hitters for average right now are Mateo (.372) and Austin Hays (.350). They have been great lately, ensuring the team is a threat to score in all innings, not just when Rutschman is due up.
This series was weird. The Orioles did not always seem to be firing on all cylinders, and they lost a winnable game on Saturday. But winning a series on the road is always reason for celebration.
Following an off day on Monday the Orioles will play a quick two-game set with the nearby Washington Nationals in D.C. The first game is set for Tuesday at 7:05 with a duel of Dean Kremer (0-0, 9.49 ERA) and Josiah Gray (0-3, 4.32 ERA).
Who was the Most Birdland Player for April 16?
This poll is closed
Grayson Rodriguez (battled back from poor 1st inning)
Cedric Mullins (3-for-5, triple, walk, 4 RBI)
Gunnar Henderson (2-for-4, walk, 3 runs)
Mike Baumann (win, two hitless innings of relief)