Tony La Russa had a simple answer after the latest setback for the Chicago White Sox.
“The problem is whenever we’ve pitched well, they’ve pitched better, whenever we hit, they’ve hit better,” the manager said. “You get outplayed, you lose games.”
The Sox dropped their fourth straight, falling to the Baltimore Orioles 6-2 in front of 29,282 at Guaranteed Rate Field. The Orioles scored four runs in the seventh to pull away.
“They’re pitching us well,” La Russa said. “We’ll figure something else to do. There’s always something else you can do.”
The Sox need to figure it out soon.
They began the four-game series Thursday with an opportunity for some momentum ahead of a West Coast trip and a chance to get back over .500, playing a team that is last in the American League East.
Instead they’ve lost the first three, getting outscored 14-3 in the process. The Orioles (34-39) have one more win than the Sox (33-37).
“It’s part of the ups and downs of a season,” said Sox starter Lance Lynn, who allowed six runs (five earned) on six hits with eight strikeouts and a walk in 6⅔ innings. “You know that you’re going to go through stretches where you’re playing well and you’re going to go through stretches where you’re not playing well.
“As professionals you’ve got to show up and be ready to play the next day, and we’re doing that. Sometimes it doesn’t equate to a win on the field, but we’re giving everything we’ve got and as long as we keep doing that, everybody shows up and gives us what we’ve got, we’re going to be all right.”
Some of the issues that have hurt the team much of this season were on display again Saturday.
The defense had a mistake at a critical time. The Orioles took a 2-1 lead in the fifth when Jorge Mateo scored on a fielding error by shortstop Leury García.
Offensively, the Sox couldn’t find any sustained success for the third straight day against Orioles pitching. They had six hits and only one in the final five innings. The Sox lost the series opener 4-0 and had just one hit in Friday’s 4-1 defeat.
“They’ve made good pitches,” Sox catcher Reese McGuire said. “They’re attacking the strike zone. It seems they’re getting ahead 0-1, we’re trying to be ready to hit early in the count. I think they’re playing awesome defense. We hit a lot of balls awfully hard in the gaps in the last day or two, and they’ve running them down, making diving catches, down the right-field line.
“(And they’re) keeping us off second on hits when they are getting in the hole. … But I think this team is close to clicking and getting rolling.”
The question becomes how can the Sox get clicking as a whole.
After the start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 21 minutes because of rain, Lenyn Sosa provided a brief spark in his first major-league start. The second baseman made a nice defensive play to catch a sinking line drive for the final out in the top of the third. He reached in the bottom of the inning on an error and scored from first on Luis Robert’s bloop single when the throw back to the infield got away from Orioles shortstop Jorge Mateo.
“I thought Sosa was impressive,” La Russa said. “He’s built a reputation. He’s very sound fundamentally. He’s exciting for us, and you can tell he’s not afraid up here. That’s a positive from today.”
Lynn took a step forward in his third start of the season after returning from right knee surgery in the spring to repair a torn tendon, although the right-hander was more focused on the result.
“It felt like a loss,” he said. “That’s the only way to look at it. We’ve got to be better, I’ve got to finish outings. That’s where I’m at right now. Stuff’s there, I’ve just got to finish outings.”
The Sox trailed 2-1 in the seventh when Lynn faced a bases-loaded challenge after Cedric Mullins reached on an infield hit.
There were two outs and Lynn was at 108 pitches.
“I was confident it was his inning,” La Russa said.
Lynn hit Trey Mancini on the next pitch, bringing home a run to make it 3-1.
“Didn’t finish the outing, and that’s what happens,” Lynn said. “Got to finish, got to make the pitch. Didn’t do it.”
José Ruiz entered and Austin Hays drove in three with a double, essentially putting the game out of reach.
And so a homestand that began with two promising wins against the Toronto Blue Jays wraps up Sunday with the Sox looking to salvage one game against the Orioles.
“No one likes to lose, so they’re going to show up (Sunday) ready to go, and that’s all you ask,” Lynn said. “Put in your work, get ready to go. We’ve got another one (Sunday) and be there for your teammates. And that’s what we’re going to do.”