Rutschman comes off bench to break tie in Orioles' 6-4 win (updated)

CHICAGO – Orioles manager Brandon Hyde explained earlier in the day why Adley Rutschman wasn’t in the lineup. Had nothing to do with an injury. That’s reserved for the rotation.

Three consecutive day games were on the docket. This was a way to give the catcher a little break before the grind.

Hyde smiled as he sat in the visiting dugout and conceded that Rutschman probably would get in there anyway. That’s usually how it works.

Rutschman came off the bench in the eighth inning and singled with two outs to score two runs, breaking a tie and giving the Orioles a 6-4 victory over the White Sox before an announced crowd of 18,831 at Guaranteed Rate Field that ensures nothing less than a split of the four-game series.

The Orioles are 31-18 and starting Albert Suárez on Saturday afternoon after placing Dean Kremer on the 15-day injured list with a strained right triceps.

The Yankees are pounding the Padres in San Diego and seem poised to maintain a three-game lead in the American League East.

Craig Kimbrel recorded his 11th save and the 428th of his career to tie Kenley Jansen for fifth-place on the all-time list. He threw two pitches last night and got a game-ending double play on a popup and runner’s interference.

Colton Cowser, a late entry into center field, robbed Tommy Pham of a home run to end tonight's game. He didn't toss the ball into the stands. No fountains to repeat his faux pas in Kansas City.

"Looking forward to seeing the replay on that," Hyde said. "I got blocked a little bit, but Colton's a great athlete."

"Everyone was ecstatic," Rutschman said. "You see it go up and everyone knows it's going to be a close play. I love the fact he was mic'd up for that (on Apple TV+) and so I can't wait to hear what it comes out as."

Rutschman batted for Cedric Mullins and lined a full-count fastball from Michael Kopech into left-center field, with Andrew Benintendi unable to make a diving catch but trapping the ball. Ryan O’Hearn and Anthony Santander raced home, the latter scoring from first base and reaching with his hand to touch home plate.

O’Hearn led off with a double and Santander walked with one out. Cowser batted for Austin Hays and lined to center field before Rutschman improved his lifetime stats as a pinch-hitter to 2-for-10.

"That's not an easy spot to hit 100, 101 in the rain," Hyde said. "To be able to get on time and get on top of a fastball like that shows you how special a player he is."

The at-bat lasted six pitches and Rutschman got the barrel on a 99 mph fastball. He was looking for a pitch over the middle that he could do damage on, trying to stay locked in, and see what he could make happen.

"I think every guy on the bench does a really good job of staying ready and staying mentally in the game," he said. "Especially with close games like that, you never know when you're going to get called on, so just trying to stay as ready as you can.

"There's a lot of different aspects to it. I think one of the things is definitely just, you're not playing in the game, you get that adrenaline rush when you step in there for the first time, big situation usually. So trying to ease your mind a little bit and prepare as much as you can so you're as relaxed as possible going in there."

Rutschman did some hitting in the cage in anticipation of a late assignment.

"Just kind of a gradual process, trying to stay warm in between innings and get your swings when you feel like you need them," Rutschman said.

"He knows," Hyde said. "I'm going to try to pick the spot I feel like is kind of the game-deciding moment when we need him. I'd love to give him the full day off but there's certain circumstances where I feel like he's the right option in a big spot."

Gunnar Henderson hit his 17th home run to give the Orioles a 3-0 lead in the fifth. James McCann singled with two outs and Henderson drove a changeup from Chris Flexen 411 feet to left-center field at 103.9 mph off the bat.

Flexen retired eight of the first nine batters before back-to-back doubles by Henderson and Jordan Westburg in the third. Henderson reached for a changeup and flicked it down the left field line at 55.9 mph off the bat. Westburg drove a fastball to the center field fence at 102.4 mph.

They looked the same in the box score.

Henderson flexed his muscle in the fifth, becoming the third Oriole with at least 17 homers in the first 49 games of the season. Brady Anderson had 20 in 1996 and Frank Robinson had 17 in 1967.

Westburg walked, O’Hearn singled, Justin Anderson replaced Flexen, and Ryan Mountcastle settled for one RBI on an automatic double – the big hop giving the Orioles a 4-0 lead but forcing O’Hearn to go back to third base.

The run would have come in handy with the White Sox finding their offense in the series.

The start of the game was delayed 41 minutes due to an approaching storm that never arrived. No tarp, no rain. But more weather torture.

The screws were tightened in the sixth when it actually began to rain. It became a downpour in the eighth. They couldn’t play in dry conditions but pushed through the precipitation.

"I feel like our guys are kind of getting used to it now," Rutschman said. "You deal with it and I think our guys are mentally tough. They do a good job of staying in it and not letting it affect them, but definitely not ideal."

"It's a tough team," Hyde said. "We're used to playing in kind of tough conditions. Tonight's rain was annoying and it's not easy to hit and it's not easy to keep your spikes clean and the whole thing, but I think our team shows a lot of toughness. And gotten tougher over the last few years just because of the environments we play in and the games we played in. That was a fun dugout tonight."

While starters drop around him, Corbin Burnes keeps taking the ball. He isn’t always sharp and it isn’t always his finest work, but he’s pitching for a club that’s reeling from the rotation turmoil.

They need him to hold his place. They needed him tonight to hold a lead.

Burnes registered his sixth consecutive quality start, but Andrew Vaughn hit a game-tying home run off Yennier Cano in the seventh. A bullpen that never rests also is operating at less than peak efficiency.

Burnes allowed three runs and seven hits and walked two batters in six innings. He followed the 11 strikeouts in his last start that tied his season high with six tonight.

The last, on a changeup to Nicky Lopez, stranded the potential tying run at third base in the sixth.

Burnes had an eight-pitch first inning and a 12-pitch third while retiring the side in order. He issued two walks in the fourth and Korey Lee reached on an infield single, but Benintendi grounded to the mound.

Jorge Mateo saved a run from scoring with a sliding stop of Lee’s ground ball to keep it from reaching the outfield.

Lopez and Pham singled with one out in the fifth, and Vaughn followed with an RBI double. Gavin Sheets struck out with the count full, but Paul DeJong singled to score two runs and reduce the lead to 4-3.

Cionel Pérez removed his jacket, threw a warmup pitch and sat down after Corey Julks lined to right.

Lee led off the sixth with a bunt single, which ignited an argument from McCann and Hyde that the bat toss interfered with the veteran catcher making the play. Benintendi grounded into a force, stole second base and raced to third on McCann’s throwing error, but he couldn’t score.

Lopez struck out on a curveball on Burnes’ 92nd pitch.

"Pretty good for the most part," Burnes said. "I think we did a good job early on of keeping them off balance and getting some weak contact. Most of the hits tonight were not well-struck outside of the double off the wall there. I think we did a good job of limiting hard contact and making pitches when we needed to. Unfortunately in the fifth inning we just got a little too predictable and a couple knocks led to runs."

Cano struck out two batters in the seventh but Vaughn’s home run was the fourth surrendered by the 2023 All-Star setup man.

* Right-hander Nate Webb underwent surgery today on his left Achilles tendon and won’t pitch in 2024, a second full season missed. He had Tommy John surgery in the spring of 2023 while in the Pirates organization.

The Orioles signed Webb to a two-year minor league deal in October. He was throwing down in Sarasota and getting close to joining an affiliate.

Webb stated on a social media post that he’ll be ready for spring training and “make good on the 2nd year of my contract with the O’s.”

* Pitcher Moises Chace was removed from High-A Aberdeen’s game after colliding with a baserunner and leaving the field on a stretcher. He received medical care.

Terrin Vavra started at shortstop tonight with Triple-A Norfolk and hit his first home run, a grand slam that came after an earlier RBI single.

Jackson Holliday singled twice, walked and drove in a run. Billy Cook also had two hits and an RBI.

Tucker Davidson made another start and allowed two runs, both unearned, in four innings. Nolan Hoffman struck out five in two scoreless innings.

Samuel Basallo hit his seventh home run for Double-A Bowie, a three-run shot in the third inning in a 17-10 loss to Richmond. Silas Ardoin hit his first, also a three-run shot, and had four RBIs. TT Bowens drove in three runs.

Alex Pham allowed nine runs and seven hits and walked five batters in four innings.

The IronBirds’ Enrique Bradfield Jr. had three hits and an RBI, and Tavian Josenberger had two hits and two RBIs.

Single-A Delmarva’s Trey Gibson tossed 4 2/3 scoreless innings with no walks and six strikeouts in a 1-0, 10-inning win. Kevin Guerrero delivered a walk-off single.

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