O's game blog: Looking for some offense and a few wins in Chicago

CHICAGO – The Orioles' road trip has taken them to Chicago, where tonight the Birds (29-18) open a four-game series against the team with the worst record in the majors, the Chicago White Sox (15-35).

The Orioles have fallen 3.5 games behind first-place New York in the American League East. The Yankees won this afternoon against Seattle and split that four-game series while the Orioles were getting swept by the St. Louis Cardinals by 6-3, 3-1 and 5-4 scores.

That series result ended the O’s run of 106 straight regular-season series without being swept. They were last swept in the regular season from May 13-15, 2022 at Detroit.

Chicago’s start to this season was terrible as the White Sox were 3-22 on April 25. Then they swept a three-game series from Tampa Bay to start a run in which they went 11-8 over 19 games. They are now 1-5 in the past six games.

Their past two series were against AL East opponents, and they went 0-3 versus the Yankees and just lost two of three to Toronto, losing 9-2 yesterday.

The Orioles are looking to get their offense going in this series. They scored 18 runs in a home series win over the weekend against Seattle. But they put up just eight runs on 14 hits at St. Louis and hit one home run in that series.

In the season’s first 27 games, the Orioles averaged 5.6 runs per game with a .773 team OPS. In the last 20 games they have scored three or fewer runs 11 times, averaging 3.9 runs per game with a .673 OPS.

Their records were actually similar in both stretches, as Baltimore pitching has been going well most of the year. They went 17-10 (.630) in the first part and 12-8 (.600) in the second part.

So heading into this series, the Orioles have lost three in a row, four out of five and six of their past nine games. They are 17-11 the last 28 games.

While the Orioles offense has taken a downturn in recent games, Chicago has struggled most of this year.

Scoring 4.87 runs per game for the season, the Orioles rank second in the AL and fifth in the majors. But at just 2.86 per game, the White Sox rank last in the AL and last in the majors.

The White Sox rank last in the big leagues in team OBP at .277, team slugging at .332 and OPS at .609. Chicago has hit 35 homers, the fewest in the majors.

The White Sox have been shut out 10 times and have scored just 27 runs over their past 11 games. They’ve scored two runs or fewer 25 times, the most in baseball, going 2-23 in those games.

Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez (4-1, 3.15 ERA) will make his eighth start tonight. Last Saturday against Seattle he gave up just one hit over six scoreless innings, giving up three walks and notching seven strikeouts.

Rodriguez ranks in the top 14 percent of the majors in fastball velocity with an average of 96.3 mph, and he throws his four-seam fastball for 46 percent of his pitches.

Since July 22, 2023 he has made 19 starts and is 9-3 with a 2.58 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. In this stretch he’s allowed two earned runs or fewer 15 times and made 11 quality starts.

Chicago’s starter is right-hander Mike Clevinger (0-2, 5.56 ERA). The former Cleveland Guardian signed a one-year deal for $3 million for this season on April 4 and then spent some time pitching in Triple-A. He has made three starts for Chicago, allowing 15 hits over 11 1/3 innings. In his last start, he gave up three runs over 4 2/3 to the Yankees.

Clevinger has had his share of injuries and has undergone two Tommy John surgeries, and he has made just 54 appearances since the 2020 season.

He is 4-1 with a 3.11 ERA in seven career games versus Baltimore. And in his last five games against the Orioles he has a 2.20 ERA.

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