CHICAGO – The Orioles haven’t won as many games as they’ve lost, but they don’t back down, whether it’s from the adversity brought upon them by another injury that wrecks the rotation, or a 99 mph fastball in the ribs and the aggression from dugouts and bullpens emptying onto the field.
Jorge Mateo was drilled on the left side in the second inning tonight by White Sox starter Michael Kopech, dropped his bat and began taking a wide path toward first base. Veering a little closer to the mound with each slow step. Bringing tempers closer to the boiling point.
They exchanged words, but not punches, as the usual scrum formed on the grass. Play resumed after both benches were warned, angering manager Brandon Hyde, and the Orioles held the White Sox to one hit and retired the last 19 batters in a 4-1 win at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Perhaps this was carryover from Dean Kremer nailing Josh Harrison last night on the right triceps. Or just a pitch that got away from Kopech. Mateo’s reaction after absorbing the blow set off both teams, with assistant pitching coach Darren Holmes holding back Rougned Odor as the Orioles second baseman yelled and gestured.
"He gets hit in the back after squaring to bunt and didn't like it," Hyde said. "I don't know the exchange, honestly. I need to look at the replay, what Jorgie did. But it's one of those competitive things that happens and we moved on pretty quickly.
"I thought it was over at that point. We're trying to win the game and they are, too. It's one of those things that happen and you move on."
Mateo reached first base and heard from White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, who wasn’t ready to move on from the incident. Neither was Mateo, who stole second base to bring them closer. Anderson said something else and waved his glove, crew chief Marvin Hudson and third base umpire John Tumpane approached him to calm the situation, and Richie Martin delivered a run-scoring single.
"In reality, I really wasn't understanding what he was saying," Mateo said via interpreter Ramón Alarcón. "He started saying some words, but I really didn't understand what he was saying. I was trying to figure it out."
Mateo didn't think the pitch was intentional.
"I don't know what happened there, what they were thinking," he said.
So why the reaction?
"In the heat of the moment, it's normal," he replied. "People start talking, saying stuff, and you feel something, you feel uncomfortable, but it's normal in the heat of the moment."
Martin stole second and third base, giving the Orioles four to tie their season high on April 23. More aggression, but in actions rather than verbally.
Mateo walked and stole second base in the fourth to carry the Orioles to their highest total since July 25, 2019 in Anaheim, forever known as the “Stevie Wilkerson Game.” That one lasted 16 innings. They hadn’t swiped five bags in a nine-inning game since May 27, 2007, or six since 1996.
Anderson appeared to tap Mateo with his glove after the steal, and not just on the late tag. Mateo was back on his feet. Maybe a leather peace offering.
Austin Voth limited Chicago to one run in three innings, and Joey Krehbiel retired all seven batters faced with three strikeouts. Bryan Baker and Cionel Pérez each set down their four batters, and Jorge López retired the side in order in the ninth for his 13th save.
Nineteen in a row total, the last 18 by the bullpen. Waiver claim after waiver claim.
"The bullpen is just incredible right now," Voth said. "It's a lot of fun to watch. There's a lot of great guys and they're pitching great."
The Orioles (33-39) have won three games in a row for the first time since May 8-10 and are six below .500 for the first time since May 14. Their 33rd win last season came on July 24.
The last one-hitter was July 21, 2019 versus the Red Sox.
Piecing together nine innings after a scheduled starter is unavailable, as they did again tonight with Kyle Bradish pushed back and then going on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation, is as natural to the Orioles as drawing a breath.
"So proud," Hyde said. "It's pretty much a bullpen game with Voth. We're just stretching him out. Everybody who came in the game ... no hits out of the 'pen. No walks, no hits. It's on the road against the White Sox. All those guys had great stuff, a lot of soft contact, a ton of strikes. Really aggressive. These guys are exceeding expectations and just really happy and proud of them."
The Orioles improved to 23-0 when leading after the sixth, 25-1 after the seventh and 27-0 after the eighth.
How different is this bullpen compared to the past?
Hyde laughed and said, "Just a tad."
"You obviously have a lot of confidence because the majority of the time when you hand them the ball, they're getting the job done. And they're pitching with emotion, they're pitching with energy, they're pitching with a chip on their shoulder, and it's fun to watch them. They have great stuff, but they're made right, too, and they're competing within each other, also. It's awesome."
"All these guys are talented," Voth said. "Just shows that you can rebuild your career and continue to have success. You just have to have an opportunity, and I think that's what these guys are doing."
The Orioles manufactured a run in the first inning on Cedric Mullins’ bunt single and 16th stolen base - and 13th successful in a row - Trey Mancini’s ground ball and a wild pitch.
The team has five bunt singles this year – three by Mullins and one each by outfielder Ryan McKenna and catcher Anthony Bemboom.
One of these things is not like the other.
Kopech faced the Orioles twice in relief last season and struck out the side in both innings. Mullins laid down his bunt tonight on the first pitch.
Voth retired the side in order in the first inning, but he walked AJ Pollock in the second and Jake Burger’s two-out double cut the lead to 2-1.
The Orioles’ shutout streak ended at two, but Voth stranded a runner in the third by striking out Luis Robert on his 47th pitch of the game. One run and one hit, with two walks and three strikeouts for Voth, who hasn’t worked more than three innings since 2020.
Hyde said Voth is staying in the rotation. Spenser Watkins starts Saturday afternoon.
"It's been fun," Voth said. "I haven't been able to do this since 2020. I'm enjoying it, for sure."
Pollock made a diving catch in left field to rob Adley Rutschman of a hit in the second inning. Rutschman lined a double into the right field corner in the fourth and scored on a balk for a 3-1 lead. He also flied to the center field fence in the eighth.
Eleven of Rutschman’s last 15 hits have gone for extra bases. He’s doubled in four straight games.
Doubles by Mancini and Austin Hays in the eighth off Vince Velasquez extended the margin.
The Orioles couldn’t be rattled early, and they stayed on a roll.
Down on the farm, Triple-A Norfolk shortstop Jordan Westburg had his first career five-hit game. Kyle Stowers and Shed Long Jr. finished with four hits, with Stowers clubbing his 13th home run, and Gunnar Henderson and DJ Stewart collected three hits. Henderson hit his third home run.
Mike Baumann started and tossed three scoreless innings with four strikeouts.
Terrin Vavra, who left last night’s game after being hit in the head, participated in workouts today and is expected back in the lineup soon.
Heston Kjerstad hit his first professional home run in the ninth inning after an earlier single for Single-A Delmarva. He’s batting .405 with a 1.033 OPS.
Anthony Servideo singled and drove in two runs. Edgar Portes allowed one earned run (two total) and one hit in five innings.
Hudson Haskin hit his eighth home run with Double-A Bowie, Adam Hall doubled twice and singled, and Drew Rom tossed five scoreless innings with two hits and seven strikeouts. Noah Denoyer followed with four scoreless innings of relief, allowing only one hit and walking none to record the save.
Four pitchers combined for a shutout at High-A Aberdeen, beginning with Peter Van Loon’s four scoreless innings. Thomas Girard, Carson Carter and Xavier Moore combined for five hitless innings with no walks and nine strikeouts.