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Orioles open final first-half series with 12-1 loss to White Sox; infielder Pat Valaika returns to mound

Before Friday night’s game with the Chicago White Sox opened the Orioles’ final series of the first half of the season, manager Brandon Hyde stated the obvious.

“We’re looking for pitching,” he said.

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He saw plenty of it in Friday’s 12-1 defeat, and little of it good, with Hyde calling on second baseman Pat Valaika to pitch for the second time this year to record the final out of the top of the ninth after the White Sox got to each actual pitcher the Orioles sent to the mound. The Orioles issued eight walks as a staff; seven came from the relievers, as the bullpen allowed 10 runs.

“Definitely affected the game, there’s no doubt about it,” Hyde said. “I don’t know if fatigue’s playing a factor in some of these guys. That would be understandable if it is.”

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Ramón Urías’ second-inning home run gave the Orioles (28-59) an early lead, but it didn’t make it to their next time up, with Brian Goodwin tying the game with a two-out double in the third against Jorge López. The Orioles right-hander has struggled in the fifth inning often this season and did so again Friday, giving up three straight hits to open the frame as the White Sox took a lead they didn’t release.

López enters the All-Star break with a major league-worst 12 losses and a 5.95 ERA. That includes a 16.03 mark in the fifth inning, a frame Orioles starters have completed only once in their past 11 games. He said any fatigue he might be experiencing isn’t physical, but mental from being “over and over and over in the same spot.”

“Feels like a deja vu,” López said. “We’ve been talking about how starters, we’ve been going to the fifth, it feels like the game is over.”

Cole Sulser and Dillon Tate combined to issue five walks and four runs in the fifth to help Chicago break the game open, and Gilman alumnus Gavin Sheets homered in his first major league game at Camden Yards as part of a three-run seventh against César Valdez.

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Recent waiver claim Shaun Anderson made his team debut with a scoreless eighth, then allowed a three-run home run in the ninth before Hyde turned to Valaika.

Urías stays hot

Since rejoining the Orioles in late June to be their regular shortstop after Freddy Galvis suffered a right quadriceps strain, Urías has been among their most productive players.

Entering Friday having batted .333/.405/.515 since his latest promotion from Triple-A, Urías added two more hits including his home run, marking his fourth multi-hit performance in the past five games.

“I think the time I spent in Norfolk was very valuable to me,” Urías said through team interpreter Ramón Alarcón. “I believe that I had some good games over there. And thankfully, I’ve been able to carry that over to here.”

Despite his limited playing time, Urías has been measured as one of Baltimore’s top performers. Before what was only his 35th appearance in the Orioles’ 87 games, Urías ranked tied for fourth among Orioles position players in Wins Above Replacement, according to FanGraphs. While that also speaks to the struggles for those around him, the 27-year-old’s .830 OPS is the highest of any Oriole other than All-Star Cedric Mullins.

He and newcomer Kelvin Gutiérrez were the lone Orioles batters to record multiple hits.

Around the horn

  • Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias provided several minor league injury updates before Friday’s game. Left-hander DL Hall, Baltimore’s No. 3 prospect according to Baseball America, will resume throwing in about two weeks as the inflammation in his pitching elbow improves. 2019 fourth-round pick Joey Ortiz has a torn labrum and will undergo season-ending surgery; the infielder is expected to be ready for spring training. Triple-A shortstop Richie Martin, who suffered a broken left wrist in May while playing center field, will return at the end of July or early August. No. 22 prospect Terrin Vavra’s back soreness will keep him out until mid-August. Shortstop Anthony Servideo, Baltimore’s third-round pick in 2020, will play rehab games in the Florida Coast League beginning next week and rejoin Low-A Delmarva the week after. Right-hander Carter Baumler, taken in the fifth round last year, is progressing in his rehab from Tommy John surgery and should be ready for spring training.
  • Hyde said the Orioles are still sorting out how they will order their pitching rotation in the second half. John Means, who made a rehab start Friday for Double-A Bowie, will make his first start off the injured list in the fourth or fifth game after the break, while Hyde added Friday that struggling right-hander Matt Harvey will pitch in either the final game of Baltimore’s road series against the Kansas City Royals or join Means in the series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
  • Dr. Nilofer Azad, who served as Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini’s oncologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital during his battle against colon cancer last year, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Mancini.
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