The Chicago White Sox had solid recent history on their side against the Baltimore Orioles, but they never had to face Adley Rutschman.
The Orioles rookie catcher on Thursday-evening had the number of Sox-starter Johnny Cueto, who tagged him for a two-run homerun in the fourth and an RBI double two innings later to send the Sox to a 4-0 loss at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Rutschman’s three RBI’s were career highlights – he had all four in his first 26 games.
“He had a great night,” said Sox manager Tony La Russa. “See if we can make some adjustments, keep him quiet.”
Cueto threw 5⅓ innings, gave up seven hits — including a two-run homerun for Rutschman — and struckout seven.
The Sox had won eight in a row against the Orioles dating back to May 1, 2019. But they were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, leaving 11 on base.
“I would say we should win the game if you get nine hits and a lot of hard outs – you should mark something, right?” said LaRussa. “So we hit a lot of balls hard and couldn’t break through.
Added catcher Seby Zavala, who had two doubles: “We had three, four balls that were hit pretty well and thought we had a good chance of leaving the yard or at least going off the wall. They were just dying there.”
One bright spot for the Sox was Lenyn Sosa’s major league debut, which left a lasting impression on the infielder: “Step onto the pitch and see the crowd, the stadium, the fans. I have never played in such a stadium.
“It was pretty amazing.”
The Orioles thought they had taken an early lead in the third inning over Trey Mancini’s would-be RBI double in the third inning, but Cedric Mullins was tagged out and slipped home. The Orioles challenged, believing the left field relay from AJ Pollock to Tim Anderson to Zavala was late, but the call was confirmed.
In the fourth, Ryan Mountcastle doubled to the middle and moved to third base on an error by Leury Garcia. Rutschman let the Sox pay for that error with a two-run homerun.
Gavin Sheets, who played his first game in the majors since June 9, gave the Sox hope for a response with a double in the bottom of the inning, but rightfielder Austin Hays threw him out at home on Leury Garcia’s line-drive single.
Sheets followed Jake Burger’s sixth-inning double with a walk and chased Orioles starter Dean Kremer, but reliever Felix Bautista struckout Zavala.
Sheets worked out a 3-0 count in the eighth, but the drama ended with a flyout into the midfield warning lane.
“Good at at bats. Very good,’ said La Russa.
Injuries forced the Sox to shuffle the lineup for the series opener.
Anderson, who turned 29 on Thursday, started the season with backup shortstop Danny Mendick with a torn ACL in his right knee. Anderson was 1-for-5 with two strikeouts.
La Russa chose to replace rightfielder Adam Engel, who went into the 10-day IL with a strained right hamstring, by keeping Sheets and Andrew Vaughn at first base.
Luis Robert was dealing with a leg problem that arose during Wednesday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays, so La Russa opted to leave him in and put Leury Garcia in the middle.
“It’s baseball. It’s part of the game,” Cueto said of all the injuries. “I think you should be like a horse – just keep moving forward.”
The Sox’s original plan for Sosa was that he would make his debut sometime during the four-game weekend homestand against the Orioles — just not on Thursday. But Josh Harrison was shaken up after being hit by a pitch in the bottom of the fifth, and Sosa replaced him in second place in the sixth. Sosa struckout in his first career at bat, then walked in the ninth in a nine-pitch at bat.
“I thought his first at bat was okay,” said La Russa. “I thought his second at bat was one of the highlights of the evening. We were competing at the time. He walked and made an error on some difficult pitches. I found that very impressive.
“He has all the attributes to be a good batter.”
Harrison had a bruised right triceps and the x-rays were negative. He is day to day.
“He’s got a big old knot in the back of his right throwing arm,” La Russa said. “It was a strange way to get hit.”