Jorge Mateo, hit by pitch, causes the White Sox Orioles benches to be cleared


Jorge Mateo, hit by pitch, causes the White Sox Orioles benches to be cleared

CHICAGO — Thankfully, there were no hits as the benches and bullpens emptied during the second inning in Baltimore’s 4-1 win over the White Sox Friday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.

That stoppage came after White Sox starter Michael Kopech hit Baltimore shortstop Jorge Mateo on the back with a 99-mile fastball on a 1-2 count. Unfortunately for the White Sox’s offense, it had exactly one hit over zero against Austin Voth and four Baltimore reliefs in the team’s third straight loss after hitting .500.

Cleveland and Minnesota lost their respective games and held the White Sox 4 1/2 games behind in the American League Central. But having Jake Burger’s run-scoring double in the second hold as the roster’s all-out offense when the last 19 White Sox are out in a row isn’t practical for a team with playoff ambitions, let alone championship hopes.

“You’re not really sure what the answer is,” Burger said. “Something was obviously missing. We’ve had our fair share of injuries not to make excuses. The talent is in this room. Something’s missing and we’re going to find out.”

“We didn’t get a baserunner after the fifth inning, right?” said White Sox manager Tony La Russa, whose last baserunner was Andrew Vaughn’s two-out walk in the third. “We’re better than that. We need to find out why that’s true. I have some ideas, but they are.” not for me to share. It’s not acceptable.”

La Russa understood fans’ anger at their 33-36 roster, which put up a run overall against a much-improved Baltimore (33-39) roster that is still a long way from a juggernaut. As a responsible man, he took the blame.

“It’s less entertaining for the fans to see the boys 1-2-3 and go out. It always looks bad,” said La Russa when asked about his team’s energy. “We hit some balls hard.

“But in this league you either do it or you don’t, and if you don’t do it, whether you’re a player or a manager, you just take on the heat. The fans didn’t come out to watch us get beaten so easily. I’ll take the heat for not getting ready to play. I don’t know what else to say.”

Kopech (2-4) got off to a good start, even with what he described as less than his best stuff or a feel for it. He hit two and went four for more than six innings and allowed three runs.

However, it was his encounter with Mateo that drew as much attention as his dismal hilltop performance, which took his ERA to a 2.59 overall. Mateo had attempted to trump Kopech to open the two-out on bat, just as Cedric Mullins successfully did on the first pitch of the game.

Mullins’ flag angered Kopech about the difficulty he was having getting off the mound while recovering from right knee trouble stemming from a three-batter 13-pitch attack in a home start on June 12 against Rangers . But he was more frustrated when he gave up a shot on the first pitch.

“Just part of the game,” Kopech said.

White Sox second baseman Josh Harrison was hit in the right tricep by a pitch from Dean Kremer in the fifth inning of a 4-0 loss Thursday and stayed in the game before being replaced in field by Lenyn Sosa at the top of the sixth became . X-rays were negative for Harrison, who was working to remove the swelling from the area and regain range of motion, jokingly referring to the swelling on Friday by saying his triceps had a biceps on them.

That wasn’t on purpose. The same goes for Kopech’s pitch to Mateo.

“They insulted it, I think, but I’m trying to pull back and do a little bit more,” Kopech said. “Fly up, the ball escaped me. Definitely not trying to hit a player with two strikes and two outs. Especially a guy who doesn’t overdo the plate. The situation kind of escalated, but then it calmed down.”

“I don’t know what happened there,” Mateo said. “I really don’t think it was intentional.”

After the hit-by-pitch, Mateo slowly walked toward first base with a few strides toward the hill. Kopech added a couple of Orioles, hopped onto the dugout rail and started talking, and then it escalated.

Both teams received a caution as the players returned to their respective dugouts. Mateo swiped for second and hit a right on Richie Martin’s single after being hit by Kopech, giving Baltimore a 2-0 advantage. That’s all they needed.

“It was a tough night on both sides of the ball, but we fight hard every night,” Kopech said. “When things aren’t going our way, we don’t hold onto them too much. We know who we are individually. We know who we are as a team. It will turn out.”

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