White Sox 5, Orioles 1: Yermín Mercedes resurfaces

Yermín Mercedes opened this one up, and Yermín Mercedes closed it.

In between, the White Sox did just enough to extend the misery of the Baltimore Orioles. Led by Dylan Cease’s 10 strikeouts, Sox pitchers fanned 16 O’s while buying enough time for a second-half offense to kick down the door. The White Sox opened the series with a rain-delayed victory, and Baltimore has now lost 10 straight.

Mercedes needed a night like this. He entered the game hitless in four of his last five, with more double plays (three) than total bases (two). The pitches he damaged probably aren’t indicative of future success, but they were enough to supply the difference tonight. It doesn’t hurt that it came against the team that left him exposed in the minor-league phase of the Rule 5 draft back in 2017.

In the second inning, he took a sanctioned 3-0 hack on the very ordinary fastball of Bruce Zimmerman and sent a 90 mph offering over the White Sox bullpen at 116 mph. It turned out to be the only damage off the rookie lefty, with any forthcoming offense sourced from the Baltimore bullpen.

A series of strong two-out plate appearances in the sixth gave the Sox a second lead they wouldn’t rinquish. Andrew Vaughn singled off Dillon Tate to extend the inning, followed by a Leury García walk. In came Tanner Scott to face Billy Hamilton, who slapped a center-cut 0-2 fastball for 2-1 lead.

The Sox made it a more relaxed affair the following inning. After Nick Madrigal led off with a double against Baltimore changeup artist and Yoán Moncada drew a one-out walk, Abreu roped a double to the left-center gap that scored Madrigal and put two runners in scoring position for Mercedes.

Valdez had the option of walking Mercedes with first base open, but instead Baltimore opted let Valdez try floating three changeups at Mercedes with the infield in. Mercedes took the first, fouled off the second, but then smashed an elevated changeup through the middle for his second and third RBIs of the game.

The White Sox didn’t need any of the insurance runs. Cease followed his script from his start in Yankee Stadium with excellent slider work early and command issues later, but he limited the damage to a Freddy Galvis solo shot in the fourth. The biggest danger was the pitch count, which approached 100 after the first two Orioles singled to lead off the sixth.

Cease wended his way through the next three batters thanks to a couple of clutch pitches. One was a 3-2 changeup to DJ Stewart, who couldn’t stay back long enough to do any damage and flied out harmlessly to center. That kept Cease in the inning, and he finished it a batter later by striking out Stevie Wilkerson with one last devastating slider.

Cease got a whopping 29 swinging strikes for the evening, including 14 on the fastball and 11 on his slider. It was an impressive showing even without peak velocity on a cold, windy night.

Or maybe it was a reflection of the Baltimore lineup, which struck out six times over the innings thrown by Evan Marshall, Aaron Bummer and Matt Foster to close it out.

Bullet points:

*Pitchers on both sides benefited from a wide strike zone from home plate umpire Ted Barrett.

*Yasmani Grandal batted second and reached base twice, although not in ways that mattered. He struck out twice and grounded into a double play in more threatening situations.

*Moncada was the only Sox to go hitless, but he drew a walk.

*Madrigal once again did an admirable job leading off, going 2-for-4 with a double and a walk at the top of the order in place of Tim Anderson, who sat once again with a sore left thumb.

*Abreu took an awkward tumble after stretching to catch Madrigal’s attempted double-play turn in the ninth, and was seen stretching out his neck afterward.

*The game was delayed 19 minutes by rain, which came back in the top of the ninth.

Record: 29-20 | Box score | Statcast

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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Joliet Orange Sox

Nice game recap as always.

I know this is a bit of a nit pick but Sox pitchers fanned 16 O’s not 15. Cease had 10 strikeouts and Marshall, Bummer, and Foster each had 2 in their inning of work.

Last edited 1 year ago by Joliet Orange Sox

As long as Jim was sincere in the recap its okay to make mistakes.

Joliet Orange Sox

My feeling is that “He made a mistake. There will be a consequence he has to endure here within our” comment page.


I’d try to spank him, but he lives too far away


He’s rounding into mid-season form. He’ll clean those up for the stretch run.

Shingos Cheeseburgers

That was a fun one. Just when you could start to envision it slipping away….it didn’t!


This Mercedes fellow can hit.

It really is fun to think about what this lineup might look like in September if we’re healthy. We have some hitters.


I feel like Moncada has to guard against being too passive in the zone. He struck out twice yesterday on 3-2 looking at changeups.


Cease has been fun this month.

Root Cause

Cease had a Dr. Jeckel / Mr. Hide thing going on the first few games and sometimes in between innings. It is fun to watch and great to see him maturing and gaining confidence.


Keeping Cease in through the 6th had a very Guillen-Garland circa 2004 feel to it. Nice to see it work out, and hopefully it’s just another positive development step for Cease among the many he’s shown in the last month or so.