CHICAGO – Dylan Cease struck out five of the first six Orioles this afternoon, plate umpire Junior Valentine giving Cease a call on a low fastball that angered Adley Rutschman and signaling that it could be a long day.
Gilman-product Gavin Floyd hit a two-run homer in the second, the first deficit for the Orioles since Tuesday.
The four-game winning streak came apart, with the Orioles settling for a series win and hoping to transport the lingering good vibes to Seattle. But they sure made it interesting.
Cease struck out a career-high 13 batters in seven innings, and the Orioles lost for the first time in five games, 4-3, at Guaranteed Rate Field. They're 34-40 as they continue their three-city road trip.
First baseman José Abreu committed back-to-back errors in the ninth and Jorge Mateo drew a four-pitch walk to give the Orioles three cracks at tying the game or taking the lead against Kendall Graveman. Jonathan Araúz singled to reduce the lead to 4-2, pinch-hitter Rougned Odor struck out, Cedric Mullins flied to deep center for a sacrifice fly and Trey Mancini struck out.
Jordan Lyles gutted out seven innings and allowed four runs in his longest outing since May 18. He threw 111 pitches, 14 in his final frame, to rest the bullpen.
"I thought he got better as the game went on," said manager Brandon Hyde. "Big zeros there in the fifth, sixth, seventh inning to keep us in the game. Dylan Cease, that's a special arm and a great starting pitcher. We had a tough time with him. But we gave it a run there in the ninth inning and (Luis) Robert made a really good catch on Mullins there. But happy with how we played and came back. We're just one short today."
Araúz’s first Orioles hit was a home run in the third inning, following Cease’s sixth strikeout. Cease allowed only five before today in 14 starts
The same slider that resulted in five of the six strikeouts turned into a 390-foot shot to right-center field.
"It feels great," he said via interpreter Ramón Alarcón. "As I mentioned yesterday, my mission here is to help my team."
Keon Broxton was the last Oriole whose first hit with the team was a home run, a 474-footer onto the left field concourse back in 2019 in Colorado. It happened on the first pitch thrown to him.
Thirty-eight Orioles batters have done it since 1974, according to STATS, including Luis Sardinas in 2018 and Mancini in 2016.
"Swung the bat really good today," Hyde said. "I thought he hit two balls hard yesterday into right-center, too, so nice to see him come over here and contribute."
Cease began the day leading the majors in strikeouts per nine innings at 13.1, but he also led the American League with 36 walks. The trick for Orioles hitters was to stay patient and resist chasing, but don’t fall behind in the count or he’s got you.
Mullins singled after the home run, but Cease didn’t allow another hit until Anthony Santander singled with two outs in the sixth. Austin Hays then became the 13th strikeout victim.
Rutschman doubled with one out in the seventh, raising his total to 11 in 29 games. Cease began the inning at 94 pitches and finished it at 101.
Cease is the first White Sox pitcher with 11 or more strikeouts in consecutive starts since Lucas Giolito in August 2020.
"That's elite stuff," Hyde said. "I was happy we got four hits off him. It's three plus-plus pitches and it's 100, it's a bright day, so it's tough to see a little bit. Throwing 100 with a nasty slider and a nasty curveball. We squared him up a few times. Araúz with a big homer, that was fun to watch, but very difficult to hit."
Joe Kelly replaced Cease in the eighth and put two runners on base after one-out singles by Mullins and Mancini. They were stranded.
The Orioles kept trying, proving again that they're difficult to put away.
"We stay in it," Hyde said. "Guys are getting down the line, putting pressure on defense. I like the way we're running the bases hard. ... We gave them a run there at the end."
Sheets gave the White Sox a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Lenyn Sosa led off the third with a double for his first major league hit, and he scored on two fly balls to center field.
A leadoff walk to Abreu in the fourth hurt Lyles. Josh Harrison reached on an infield hit with two outs in his return to the lineup and Abreu scored on Seby Zavala’s single for a 4-1 lead.
Mullins made a spectacular diving catch in right-center to deny Vaughn in the fifth. Vaughn tipped his helmet.
The entire Orioles team could have done the same for Cease.
"I give credit to the opposing pitcher. He just had a great day, an excellent day as a matter of face," Araúz said. "Credit to him."
"He wasn't out there for too long in between innings when I was in the dugout," Lyles said. "He's got really good stuff. He's got some of the best stuff in baseball. He's always up there in strikeouts every year for a starting pitcher. Today, he had both of his breaking balls working, he's throwing really hard, he's throwing strikes, he's going 1-2-3 the majority of the innings. When you have that velocity and those two breaking balls with location, you're going to get through lineups pretty quickly."
"Unfortunately, I was pitching against him today. He was much better than I was."
Harrison had a leadoff single in the seventh and Lyles struck out the next two batters and induced a ground ball. Lyles has completed seven innings in three starts. Kyle Bradish is the only other Orioles pitcher to do it.
"After those couple shaky innings of three consecutive innings of them scoring, being able to come back out and put up a couple zeros up for our bullpen and keep our guys in the game, obviously it proved vital," Lyles said. "Keeping us in the game went a long way. From that standpoint I'm pretty happen seven innings-wise."
The White Sox loaded the bases against Cionel Pérez in the eighth on Richie Martin’s one-out fielding error, a single and an infield hit, but Jake Burger grounded into a 5-3 double play.
"This is a team that is very confident in themselves," Lyles said. "Maybe a lot of people on the outside aren't as confident as we are. ... We're talented, we're young, but I think that learning curve is started to show up and show its face."
Down on the farm, DL Hall was charged with seven runs and six hits in 3 1/3 innings with Triple-A Norfolk, walking five batters, striking out two and surrendering a home run. Two inherited runners scored. He threw 86 pitches, including 11 to Dustin Peterson while walking him in the third.
Gunnar Henderson hit a two-run homer in the first inning.
Double-A Bowie’s Garrett Stallings allowed 10 runs and 11 hits, with three home runs, in 3 1/3 innings. J.D. Mundy and AJ Graffanino hit home runs.
High-A Aberdeen’s Coby Mayo had three hits, including his 13th home run. Connor Norby hit his eighth, Isaac Bellony his second and Collin Burns his second. Jean Pinto tossed four scoreless innings with one hit and five strikeouts.