Issuing 10 walks and going hitless in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position Saturday put the White Sox on the verge of losing their fourth consecutive game.
But it was more than a consolation prize when the Sox’s pitchers worked out of several jams, thanks to three double plays that helped limit the Orioles to one hit in 14 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
That provided the Sox with enough time to produce three consecutive hits with runners in scoring position in the bottom of the 10th inning, capped by a line drive single by rookie Oscar Colas over the head of right fielder Anthony Santander to seize a 7-6 victory.
“That was a very important at-bat with a lot of pressure, and then for me to be able to come through in that moment was very important,” Colas said after being mobbed by his teammates after reaching first base. “It was a good moment.”
It was a jubilant celebration that alleviated some of the current problems. Three walks led to three runs in the sixth that wiped out a 2-1 lead. The Sox have issued 19 walks in their last two games, their most in a two-game span since issuing 20 on April 24, 26, 2022.
“I’m not going to get into that, but we are addressing,” manager Pedro Grifol said. “We got to attack the strike zone. That’s (pitching coach) Ethan Katz and (bullpen coach) Curt Hasler talking to these guys individually and they’re reminding these guys they’re very good. But that’s something on-going and I’ll keep that in-house.”
Starter Michael Kopech issued four walks in five-plus innings but credited catcher Yasmani Grandal throwing out Jorge Mateo on a steal attempt to complete a double play in the fifth enabled the Sox to stay within striking distance and help compensate for possessing command of only his fastball and slider.
“Ultimately, at least a third pitch, if not four pitches, would have been nice,” said Kopech, who departed after allowing a game-tying home run to Santander and a walk to Austin Hays to start the sixth. “I probably would have been able to go six or seven instead of just into the sixth.”
Before Saturday’s game, Grifol emphasized the importance of playing for the moment and situational hitting, which loomed large after Grandal led off the 10th with a bloop single that scored pinch-runner Romy Gonzalez with the tying run and Colas ripped a game-winning single off Logan Gillaspie.
“We just have to focus,” Grifol said after the game. “There’s a lot of talent on this team. We just have to focus and let it come to us, as opposed to kind of expanding the zone a little bit.”
Colas stranded Grandal at second base to end the fourth but made the most of his last opportunity.
“I try not to think much about it and just be present in the moment,” Colas said. “I’m glad I also have other Latino players here that are helping me.”
With Yoan Moncada on the 10-day injured list due to back soreness, Jake Burger is strengthening his case for more playing time at third - especially against right-handers. Burger hit a two-run game-tying home run off Kyle Gibson in the sixth, robbed of a double on a catch by Santander in the eighth before moving pinch-runner Seby Zavala to third on a single that set up Colas’ game-winning hit.
“I think that’s the name of the game, the more you face a certain handed pitcher, the more comfortability you’re going to feel there,” said Burger, who has homered in his last two games. “I feel like I’m starting to feel a lot better against righties.”