The Chicago White Sox will go for a four-game sweep when they host the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday afternoon.
Chicago is coming off back-to-back wins in a doubleheader Saturday. The White Sox won the first game 7-4 and the second game 3-1, with Billy Hamilton boosting the team on offense and defense in Game 2.
Hamilton hit his first homer of the season and made a diving catch in center field with the bases loaded in the sixth inning. The speedster’s mad dash around the bases on his home run left coaches and teammates chuckling.
“He’s going to have to slow his home run trot down,” manager Tony La Russa joked. “That’s just way too fast.”
Teammates cheered from the dugout as Hamilton rounded the bases. The first-place White Sox hope to keep the good vibes going in the series finale.
“Billy’s always out there making big plays for us,” said White Sox pitcher Codi Heuer, who watched from the mound as Hamilton sprinted in to catch a line drive off the bat of Maikel Franco. “He’s an easy guy to root for, man. He puts in so much work, he’s a great teammate and he plays his (butt) off out there. I loved to see it.”
The mood is not nearly as light for the Orioles, who have dropped 12 games in a row. It is the franchise’s longest losing streak since losing 13 in a row in 2009.
Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde did not mince words when asked about the lengthy skid.
“This is very, very challenging,” Hyde said. “It’s difficult. It’s frustrating. Embarrassing at times. We’re finding out about our guys. That’s the bottom line. We’re finding out about them from an evaluation standpoint, but you want to put a competitive product on the field. When we face good clubs that are built to win with starting pitching that is good, we have a tough time scoring runs.”
The Orioles’ next challenge will come against White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito (4-4, 4.04 ERA), who is scheduled to make his 11th start. Giolito, who is coming off back-to-back wins against the Minnesota Twins and St. Louis Cardinals, has 21 walks and 66 strikeouts in 55 2/3 innings this season.
The 26-year-old Giolito is 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA in two career starts against Baltimore. Both outings came in 2018, one season before he harnessed his command and made the All-Star team.
Baltimore will turn to left-hander Keegan Akin (0-0, 6.10 ERA), who is slated to make his first start of the season and the seventh start of his career. Akin has pitched 10 1/3 innings out of the bullpen this season, giving up seven runs on 12 hits and one walk while striking out 10.
The Orioles selected Akin in the second round (No. 54 overall) in 2016 out of Western Michigan. This will be his first career appearance against the White Sox.
Hyde is hopeful that his team can find a way to end its skid.
“From a coaching standpoint, we’re honest, but we also need to continue to pat guys on the back, come back to the ballpark every single day,” Hyde said. “That’s our job. Now it’s their job to perform.”
–Field Level Media