BALTIMORE — The White Sox need to win five of their last 15 games to avoid their fourth 100-loss season in franchise history, and having the Orioles to play this weekend isn’t hurting the cause.
With six games left against the division-leading Indians and three against the Cubs, it’s time to make some hay while the getting is good.
And make hay the Sox did on a misty Friday night at Camden Yards, defeating the lowly Orioles 8-6 behind six innings of two-run ball from James Shields; a three-hit night from Yoan Moncada; home runs from Omar Narvaez, Avisail Garcia and rookie Ryan Cordell; and an RBI triple off the center-field wall from Nicky Delmonico. The Orioles are 42-105 after their latest loss.
Fresh off a 4-2 win in Kansas City on Wednesday and a day off Thursday, the Sox (58-89) came to Baltimore a relaxed and somewhat rested bunch, but with only two weeks to go and nothing but pride to play for, they were still focused on trying to win a baseball game. Pitchers and hitters gathered for their usual meetings before the first game of a series. Cordell, in search of his first major-league hit, broke down video of Orioles starter Luis Ortiz. Helping him was center fielder Adam Engel, who sat out in favor of Cordell, who would connect on a 419-footer against Orioles lefty Tanner Scott.
Daniel Palka, getting set to do an interview with MLB.com’s “Chatting Cage” but realizing it was meeting time, dropped it like a hot potato and went back for it after the meeting.
“We’re going to finish strong,” Shields said. “We’re going to play all the way to the end. We have a good group of guys in this clubhouse who work really hard between games, and they want to get better every day.”
Palka singled twice and drove in the first run of the game, scoring Moncada, who led off with a ground-rule double, his 25th. Cordell’s homer was a welcome blast, and not just because it took him 16 at-bats to get his first hit. The Orioles had cut the lead to one by scoring four runs against lefty Aaron Bummer and righty Ian Hamilton in a seventh inning in which Moncada committed his team-high 19th error on a potential double-play grounder. It was a noticeable blemish on an otherwise good night for Moncada, who made a difficult catch reaching over the side wall to catch a foul ball.
“Definitely after that tough bottom half of the seventh inning, to get a little momentum back, it was pretty big,” Cordell said. “I was pressing quite a bit — it took quite a few ABs, but I’m glad it’s out of the way.”
The beer shower for his first hit “was really cold,” Cordell said. “But it was a good cold.”
The home run ball, scooped up by a fan who received a bat and signed ball in exchange for it, will probably go to Cordell’s parents, he said.
The Sox struck out 10 times, raising their total to a major-league high 1,422 strikeouts, and it’s Moncada who’s most responsible with a major-league-leading 196 whiffs, the second-most in franchise history. But Moncada did not strike out Friday and somewhat quietly is putting together a respectable push to the finish line by reaching base in 21 of his last 22 games and batting .288 during that stretch.
Shields (7-16), unspectacular but serviceable and reliable in making every one of his starts at age 36, lowered his ERA a smidge to 4.53 and won on the road for the first time since Opening Day. Trey Mancini homered twice to account for the damage against him.
Nate Jones, in his second appearance since coming back from a pronator injury, pitched a scoreless ninth for his first save since May 22. He has five saves this season.