BALTIMORE -- When asked if he'd consider using an opener for a woeful starting rotation, Orioles manager Buck Showalter joked before Saturday's game that the club already had. After all, the O's had endured more than their fair share of short starts. Just once in the previous eight games had
BALTIMORE -- When asked if he'd consider using an opener for a woeful starting rotation, Orioles manager Buck Showalter joked before Saturday's game that the club already had. After all, the O's had endured more than their fair share of short starts. Just once in the previous eight games had a Baltimore starter recorded an out in the sixth inning, with injuries to Andrew Cashner and Alex Cobb jeopardizing their next outings and forcing an expanded roster to scramble to cover innings.
Enter Yefry Ramirez. The 24-year-old rookie, making his first start since Aug. 19, held Chicago to just one run over a solid 5 2/3 innings in the 2-0 series loss to the White Sox. Ramirez, who moved into the rotation out of necessity after four relief appearances, made the most of his second chance.
"That's probably his best outing of the year," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Ramirez, who will remain in the rotation for the foreseeable future. "A good night to pitch on, crisp. I thought [his] best fastball, best slider. His slider's come a long way. Changeup, threw about 10 or 15 of those. Good times to the plate with runners on base. You couldn't ask for much [more]."
Indeed, Ramirez turned in his best career outing, recording a career-high seven strikeouts on 68 pitches. Ramirez held the Sox to four hits, three of which came in his final inning in the sixth. Chicago broke a scoreless tie with Yolmer Sanchez's perfectly placed double down the left-field line after Yoan Moncada doubled with two outs.
"I thought tonight, probably pure stuff-wise, was the best I'd seen him before," said catcher Caleb Joseph, who threw out three baserunners, including a strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out double play to end the top of the eighth. "Really nice life on the fastball. Really good action on the slider. Threw quite a few quality changeups. They're a pretty aggressive team, and he stayed in the zone and took advantage of a lot of aggressive hitters in aggressive counts."
The Orioles are now 42-106 on the season, one loss shy of the 1988 team, which was the worst in franchise history.
As good as Ramirez was, he was outdueled by White Sox starter Reynaldo Lopez, who went seven scoreless innings and held the O's to just four hits. The 24-year-old Lopez, who struck out six, staved off a potential rally in the bottom of the seventh before turning the ball over to the 'pen.
"Their guy is really good. We had heard about him," Showalter said of Lopez. "I watched a lot of film on him today. As advertised. … Two good, young 24-year-old pitchers matching up tonight."
Joseph's night behind the plate marked his career-high in caught stealings and improved him to 19-of-55 on the year. He credited Ramirez for giving him a chance at catching the speedy White Sox.
"I've been working on my time to my plate," Ramirez said through an interpreter. "I remember the start I had against Cleveland, that too many runners were stealing bases against me. So I really wanted to improve that and hopefully [continue to] get better."
The Sox added an insurance run in the ninth on a solo homer by Avisail Garcia off Orioles righty Mychal Givens. Baltimore put two men on in the bottom of the inning, but couldn't cash in as Juan Minaya earned his first career save after recording the final four outs.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
On the Ropes:Trey Mancini's seventh-inning single and Adam Jones' walk put two men on against Lopez and prompted a mound meeting as Baltimore threatened. Timothy Beckham fouled off six pitches and drew the count full against Lopez, but Beckham struck out on the 10th pitch, and Renato Nunez popped up to quash any hopes of a rally.
Outfielder Cedric Mullins and left-handed pitchers Keegan Akin and Zac Lowther were recognized Friday as the club's top Minor League players. The trio were honored in a pregame ceremony along with several other members of the organization.
Saturday's loss marks the Orioles' 14th shutout loss this season.
HE SAID IT
"If you think about it, that's an inning's worth of outs. We shortened the game by an inning. We had three caught-stealings, and that's one thing we had kind of gotten away from earlier in the season, and we're getting back to it, but that's a huge staple in the Orioles' defense. … We're going to take advantage of your aggressiveness on the bases, because we have guys who can get the ball to the plate in a good, quick manner, and we've got guys who can throw out base-stealers." -- Joseph
David Hess will get the start in Sunday's finale opposite White Sox righty Lucas Giolito. First pitch is slated for 1:05 p.m. ET at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.