White Sox 7, Orioles 5 (10 innings): Adam Engel saves the saver

A blown save is never acceptable, but there are two occasions where it’s easier to tolerate after the smoke clears.

The first is when something cooler happens to result in the victory. The other is when the All-Star break gives everybody four days to shake it off.

Liam Hendriks benefits from both. After Hendriks gave up a game-tying homer to Trey Mancini with two outs in the ninth, Adam Engel hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the top of the 10th. That survived a few deep flies on Baltimore’s half to stand as the difference, and so the White Sox closed out the first half of the season with a sweep.

This could have been so much more straightforward, because Dylan Cease and three White Sox relievers held the Orioles hitless from the second inning on. Hendriks almost did the same, striking out the first two batters he faced. Instead of setting up a third straight hitter with a fastball, he threw a get-me-over slider to Ryan McKenna, who lined it into center field to keep the game alive. Hendriks then resumed throwing fastballs to Mancini, but one on a 1-1 count was thigh-high and over the outer half, and Mancini redirected it just over the scoreboard in right to tie the game.

Engel ensured the Orioles couldn’t dish two-out heartbreak without taking some. While Tyler Wells walked Yoán Moncada to start the 10th (and a third inning of work for himself), he struck out José Abreu and induced a deep-but-playable flyout from Brian Goodwin.

Up came Engel, and Wells tried to maintain his attack of high fastballs, but the first three ended up above the zone. A fourth barely clipped the upper edge for a strike, but that ended up to Engel’s benefit. When a fifth high fastball dropped to the upper-third of the zone, Engel launched it over the wall in left center for a three-run homer for another lead.

This one stuck, despite Tony La Russa being fresh out of his best relievers. José Ruiz only retired one of the three batters he faced — a single, a deep sac fly, and a walk — to leave the last two outs to Matt Foster. Five pitches got the job done, with Anthony Santander hitting a routine lineout to left, and DJ Stewart’s bid to win the game landing 407 feet away from home plate, but to the part of the park that runs 410. Engel caught the ball in front of the marker to end it.

Had Hendriks gotten the job done, Andrew Vaughn would’ve been the story. Two of his swings accounted for the first four Sox runs. A solo shot in the fourth — measuring a career-best 447 feet — accounted for the only run off an effectively wild Spenser Watkins. Two innings later, lefty Paul Fry plunked Engel and walked Leury García with one out in the sixth, prompting Brandon Hyde to go to his bullpen for Cole Sulser. Sulser fell behind 3-1, and a fifth-pitch fastball cleared the wall in right center for the White Sox’s first three-run homer and a 4-2 lead.

It put Cease in position for the win, which he would’ve deserved after a rocky start to his afternoon. He opened by allowing a bunt single and a two-run homer, then kept the Orioles hitless over the remainder of his five innings, issuing two walks and an HBP amid six strikeouts. It wasn’t his most dominant forms in terms of whiffs, but it was a successful way to close out a first half, especially while his spin rate remains diminished.

Michael Kopech struck out the side yet again, Codi Heuer worked around a leadoff single, and Garrett Crochet struck out a pair himself. Had Hendriks gotten the job done, Cease would have improved to 8-4 on the season. Instead, he’ll have to settle for lowering his ERA to 4.11.

Bullet points:

*The White Sox hadn’t swept the Orioles at Camden Yards since 2005, for those of you who are into omens.

*The Peter Principle prevented Ruíz from recording his first career save, but not Foster.

*A first-inning threat was defused by Austin Hays, who gunned down Moncada as he tried to tag on a fly to medium right with one out in the first. He made the third out instead.

*Seby Zavala committed his first error on a wild throw to second after a wild pitch in the first inning, but it didn’t lead to another run.

*The White Sox closed out the first half with a five-game winning streak, which puts the eight games ahead of a Cleveland team whose game was rained out.

Record: 54-35 | Box score | Statcast

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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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jhomeslice

Wasn’t pretty but a nice way to close out a first half decimated by more injuries than anyone could have imagined.

If Vaughn is past his growing pains, to go along with Eloy returning, Goodwin/Engel being a decent platoon combo in RF, plus Robert… they should have a much better team in the 2nd half and especially by season’s end than the one that struggled to score runs so often.

roke1960

I’m pretty sure they won’t go out and get an outfielder. I’m sure they’ll run with Vaughn in left, Robert (when he comes back) in center, and Engel/Goodwin in right, with Eloy as DH. And it also sounds like they really like Zevala’s catching, so unless they get bad news on Yaz before the deadline, they’ll probably stand pat there also. Which leaves 2nd base and another reliever. Go get Trevor Story. A playoff lineup of:
Timmy ss
Yoan 3b
Story 2b
Abreu 1b
Eloy DH
Yaz c
Robert cf
Vaughn lf
Eaton/Goodwin rf
is very impressive. Make it happen Rick!

Root Cause

I’m thinking Hamilton/Goodwin in RF for the year.

I wonder if Eloy could improve to recapture LF with Vaughn in Right? Before you call me crazy that is not as ridiculous as what has gone on this year.
And while the corners may not be all-star caliber the bats from the outfield would be scary good.

Then keep Hamilton and Garcia in the rotation.

texag10

So your theoretical lineup (ignoring trades but including injury recoveries) would be something like(?):
Timmy SS
Yoan 3B
Abreu 1B
Eloy LF
Robert CF
Yaz C
Vaughn RF
Sheets DH
Garcia 2B

Amar

I’m into omens

Holland23

O men!

mikeschach

despite being a team that “struggled to score runs so often” they seem to have finished the “half” with the third most runs scored in the AL – and the lowest runs against. And the highest winning percentage. Part of that is due to their weak division, but still… not too shabby.
Having said – a good hitting second baseman and some relief help would be nice add to a great story. And a great story would be a nice add.

texag10

The AL Central may be weak but everyone keeps trying to write us off because we only beat good teams but last I checked, the Astros got swept by the Orioles, the Yankees got swept by the Tigers, and the Rays got swept by the Mariners. We are doing our job and beating who we are supposed to beat with a lineup that is undermanned to say the least.

roke1960

You’re absolutely right!! A successful team plays .500 against the good teams and crushes teams they are supposed to. Look at the Astros. They caught the Sox at the right time, but were swept at home by the O’s and needed a 6-run 9th to avoid being swept by the Yankees. The Sox just never let up. Playing shorthanded, they have held their own against the top teams except Houston and the series against the Yanks where everything that could go wrong went wrong. Split in Boston, 2-3 against both Rays and Jays. And now the reinforcements are coming. When these guys come back and we get a 2nd baseman, that will make the bench even stronger. A bench of Leury, Engel, Collins and Billy would be awesome. GO SOX!!