CHICAGO — The cruelty of inches could be felt by Logan Gillaspie, who watched with hands on his knees as the soft hit off the bat of Yasmani Grandal landed just inside the left field line.
According to Statcast, the bloop double had just a .170 expected batting average. It left Grandal’s bat at just 75 mph. In the clubhouse after, Gillaspie said he thought — or perhaps hoped — it would land foul. And yet for Gillaspie, the Orioles right-hander attempting to secure the first save of his major league career, that soft contact spelled a tie game.
And soon after, the White Sox spilled out of their dugout and Gillaspie traipsed to his own, a loss to his name after Oscar Colás drove across Chicago’s game-winning run to secure a 7-6 victory.
In the grand scheme of 10 innings, though, it probably shouldn’t have come to that. It shouldn’t have because the Orioles had the opportunity to win the game even earlier, without needing to turn to Gillaspie out of the bullpen for his eighth appearance.
The chance was there in the top of the ninth inning. There were two runners on and no outs for the Orioles to manufacture a go-ahead run and take control of this series against the White Sox.
Instead, there were whiffed bunt attempts from Adam Frazier. There was a flyout and another strikeout, too. And in the end, the Orioles finished 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position, throwing away key opportunities that would’ve ensured extra innings weren’t necessary. As it was, to extras they went, and while Adley Rutschman beat out a double play to allow a run to score, Chicago got two across in the 10th.
“Punches thrown back and forth, both teams,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We came on the short end.”
A six-run output for Baltimore was impressive, but it could’ve been even more. Beyond the ninth-inning opportunity, the Orioles had a runner in scoring position with no outs in the third but couldn’t bring him home. In the sixth, the bases loaded were loaded with one out when Rutschman hit into a double play and ended the threat. With two outs in the seventh and bases loaded, a walk brought home a run but nothing greater occurred.
So the back-and-forth game turned Chicago’s way because of a multitude of missed chances for Baltimore (8-7).
“Those are just some things that happen over the course of the game,” shortstop Jorge Mateo said through team interpreter Brandon Quinones. “You try to go out there and do a good job. Some things you can’t control. That’s part of the game. All we can do is come back tomorrow focused and try to win the game.”
There were major positives, including Mateo’s continued success at the plate and Anthony Santander’s first home run of the season. Santander’s blast off right-hander Michael Kopech sparked a three-run sixth inning. And Mateo, who’s hitting .350 this year, started the offense with a solo shot off Kopech in the third.
And once the Orioles got into Chicago’s bullpen, the walks piled up for the second straight day. After working nine free passes Friday against White Sox pitching, Baltimore took the lead in the sixth via Ryan O’Hearn’s two-out, bases-loaded walk off right-hander Kendall Graveman.
The lack of control from Chicago’s pitchers caused a nerve-racking moment, however, when Graveman’s 96-mph sinker got away and hit Ramón Urías in the head. Urías walked off under his own power after a lengthy stay on the ground, with Hyde and trainer Mark Shires looking over him.
Hyde said Urías entered concussion protocol. His eyes were open when Hyde arrived, although he understandably “looked extremely rattled.”
“But him walking off was definitely a positive,” Hyde said.
Mateo added: “It’s something really scary in the moment. In Jesus’ name, hopefully he’ll be OK, he’ll be good to go, and hopefully it’s nothing too bad.”
Baltimore’s offensive support left right-hander Kyle Gibson with a no decision, ending a streak of three straight starts with a win on his box score. Gibson also worked into the sixth inning for the third time — he and Tyler Wells are the lone Orioles starters to record an out in that frame.
However, Gibson wants one pitch back. After walking Eloy Jiménez to begin the sixth inning, Gibson got ahead 0-2 on Jake Burger. Then Gibson offered a slider, a pitch he wanted “out of the zone,” he said. “It’s a chase count. You’ve got three chances to use three really good pitches and execute them, and I didn’t get a chance to execute another one because I threw it right down the middle.”
Burger knocked it out of the park, ending Gibson’s day after 5⅓ innings and handing the reins to a bullpen that has been relied upon heavily all year. And with Gillaspie bent over, hands on knees, they watched a narrow lead slip away in the 10th inning.
The Orioles might’ve eluded that situation had they managed more than one hit with runners in scoring position. Instead, the series is tied, and they’re left with what-ifs.