CHICAGO — With an early set of patient, productive innings to stake a masterful Dylan Bundy to a lead Thursday, the Orioles beat the Chicago White Sox, 9-3, at sun-splashed Guaranteed Rate Field, sparing themselves the embarrassment of leaving this four-game series having taken over for the hosts as owners of the game's worst record.
It involved the Orioles (16-34) doing so many things they haven’t done often this season — punishing mistakes, letting balls in the dirt go by and playing good defense. Those traits get harder to bring out the more tense their situation gets. But because they showed up early Thursday, and because Bundy fanned 14 in a dominant complete game, it combined for a rare complete game from the team, too.
“We were patient, trying to get a good pitch to hit, and for the most part, we weren't missing it,” said catcher Chance Sisco, who had three RBIs.
The Orioles made quick work of wild White Sox starter Lucas Giolito by sending nine men to the plate in each of the first two innings. In the first inning, Pedro Álvarez and Craig Gentry drew back-to-back walks with the bases loaded to score a run apiece, then two runs scored on a single by Sisco for a 4-0 lead.
Trey Mancini and Adam Jones led off the second inning with back-to-back home runs — Mancini's seventh and Jones' ninth — and the Orioles tacked on a third on another bases-loaded walk, drawn by Sisco once Giolito was chased, giving the Orioles a 7-0 lead.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter praised the way they waited for pitches they could do damage on and didn’t chase the rest, which is rare when a team is pressing as hard as his Orioles.
“When you're having trouble scoring runs, there's a tendency to think, 'He's wild. He's going to be wild in the strike zone. I'm going to jump him here and jump him there,’ ” he said. “I thought our guys stayed patient. Chris [Davis] was on three or four times today. A lot of good at-bats all the way up and down the order. Pete hit a couple balls hard they caught. You can say something positive about everybody's at-bats.”
RBI singles by Manny Machado and Álvarez in the third brought an end to their hour-long catharsis, breaking the frustration caused by their 19 total runs and two wins in eight games since their 17-1 dismantling of the Tampa Bay Rays on May 13. With that 17-1 win, the Orioles had five victories in six games for a miniature renaissance.
Things have only gotten worse since, and they leave Chicago only percentage points ahead of the White Sox for the league's worst record, their .320 winning percentage second worst to the host's .319 mark.
Once Thursday's early outburst was over, they were able to sit back and not only enjoy what they'd accomplished through three innings but what Bundy was doing to the White Sox (15-32) one night after they scored 11 runs on the Orioles. The only blemish was a three-run home run by designated hitter José Rondón in the fourth inning. The rest of Bundy’s outing was so low-stress that it turned into something the Orioles could just let ride for nine innings and enjoy.
As a club, they haven’t had many games like Thursday’s — made especially more cathartic by the cloud of a blowout loss the night before and the public criticism of Davis by Hall of Famer and broadcaster Jim Palmer that followed it.
“It feels good,” Showalter said. “Nobody beats up on our guys more than they do, OK? Don't let them get their feet on the ground. Don't let them get a little confidence going and what have you, because somebody will pay for a long period of time. That's just what we're hoping. We haven't even played a third of the season yet. ... Sometimes, we get so caught up in today and what does this mean. Does this mean this is going to happen tomorrow? We're going to a great pitchers’ park. We'll see. We'll see.”