BALTIMORE—Ever since Grayson Rodriguez returned from Triple-A Norfolk for the second half of the season, he’s shown signs of becoming the top-shelf pitcher the Orioles had always hoped he’d become.
The latest evidence was on display on Monday night when Rodriguez allowed just a hit and a walk in six efficient innings as the Orioles dominated the Chicago White Sox, 9-0, before an announced crowd of 12,325 at Camden Yards.
With the win, the Orioles (82-49) moved 2 ½ games ahead of the idle Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East and secured their second straight winning record.
“We have a long way to go, but to have 82 wins up to this point is a real credit to a lot of people in that clubhouse,” manager Brandon Hyde said.
They’ll also avoid being swept for the 82nd consecutive series, the fifth longest streak in baseball history.
It was the Orioles’ ninth shutout of the season, and their most lopsided one.
Rodriguez (4-3) has reduced his earned-run average from 7.35 when he was returned to Triple-A Norfolk on May 26th to 5.03.
“The first stint up here, a lot of fastballs right down the middle,” Rodriguez said. “Trying to eliminate that now. Working both sides of the plate, up and down. At least we’re just getting close. That’s what we’re trying to do. It’s something we’re going to spend of time on in the bullpen because as we come down the stretch here, it’s going to be pretty important.”
Rodriguez retired the first 11 White Sox hitters before Luis Robert doubled with two outs in the fourth and walked Korey Lee with one out in the sixth. He struck out six and threw 95 pitches.
“He’s pitching with a lot of confidence,” Hyde said. “We’re throwing the ball well. Our starting rotation has done a fantastic job. They’re keeping us in the baseball game. Grayson continues to get better. All of our guys have improved this year, our young guys. It’s been fun to watch.”
Jacob Webb was hit in the back by Robert’s line drive in the seventh but stayed in the game and the next hitter, Eloy Jimenez, hit into a double play. Yoan Moncada walked, and DL Hall retired Andrew Vaughn on a grounder to third. Hall retired Chicago (52-80) in order in the eighth and Shintaro Fujinami worked a spotless ninth.
It was the first time Hall and Rodriguez, who were the Orioles’ top draft choices in 2017 and 2018, appeared in a major league game together.
“Being in the same game as him and it being in the big leagues is awesome,” Hall said. “It’s something we talked about for years.”
It took five years for it to happen.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Rodriguez said. “We were just joking about it just now. Having him back up here, it’s helping us both out a lot.”
Ryan O’Hearn hit an infield single against Michael Kopech (5-12) in the second and moved to third on Cedric Mullins’ double. Both runners stayed there as Ramón Urías grounded to second and Adam Frazier and Ryan McKenna struck out.
Adley Rutschman led off the third with a single. Anthony Santander’s single moved Rutschman to third, and Ryan Mountcastle walked to load the bases.
O’Hearn singled to score Rutschman and Santander, and Mullins bounced to second baseman Lenyn Sosa, who threw to shortstop Tim Anderson in an attempt to force O’Hearn, who thought he was out and began running off before he tried to go back to second. He was ruled safe initially, but it was overturned after a review.
The Orioles took a 3-0 lead in the fourth when Ryan McKenna walked with one out, stole second, advanced to third on Rutschman’s fly ball and scored on Kopech’s wild pitch. Mountcastle’s RBI single scored Gunnar Henderson, and it was 4-0.
McKenna’s two-run single and Santander’s three-run home run in the eighth put the Orioles ahead, 9-0. Santander’s home run came on the 11th pitch of the at-bat and was his 25th of the season.
Rodriguez and Hall hope to paired in the same game on many more occasions this season.
“It’s a lot of fun competing with each other, friendly competition,” Hall said. “We’re blessed and fortunate to be in this position, to finally get to do it.”
Notes: The Orioles’ September 14th game against Tampa Bay and their September 21st game at Cleveland will be shown on FOX. The September 15th game against the Rays will be shown on AppleTV+. … Dean Kremer (12-5, 4.31) will face Jesse Scholtens (1-6, 4.15) on Tuesday night. … The crowd was the lowest since May 31st when they drew 11,304 against Cleveland.