Hold the hype on Lenyn Sosa for now.
The White Sox’ prized second-base prospect, called up for his debut Thursday, might not stick around for an extended period, especially with veteran Josh Harrison showing signs of improvement and Leury Garcia showing occasional glimpses of reaching base with more frequency. And third baseman Yoan Moncada could return from a hamstring injury as soon as Tuesday.
But the Sox had more urgent matters to think about Friday night, when they were held to one hit by five Orioles pitchers who combined to retire the final 19 batters in a listless 4-1 loss.
Starter Michael Kopech (2-4) was frustrated after the Orioles stole five bases off him in the first four innings and triggered a benches-clearing incident when he hit Jorge Mateo with a pitch in the second.
Pitching coach Ethan Katz and pitcher Lance Lynn restrained Kopech while the remaining players and coaches surrounded Mateo as teammate Rougned Odor yelled.
“On a 1-2 pitch, I’m trying to rare back and do a little bit more,” Kopech said. “I flew open, and the ball got away from me. I definitely was not trying to hit a guy with two strikes and two outs, especially a guy that’s not doing too much at the plate.
“Some guys hopped the rail and started talking. That’s why things escalated.”
Mateo told reporters, “I don’t know what happened there, what were they thinking. But I really don’t think it was intentional.
“In the heat of the moment, it’s normal [to be upset]. People start talking, saying stuff. You feel something. You feel uncomfortable. But it’s normal in the heat of the moment.”
Mateo proceeded to steal second and score on a single by Richie Martin, who stole second and third on consecutive pitches.
Kopech, who has coped with knee discomfort for the last two weeks, admittedly wasn’t happy when Cedric Mullins led off the game with a bunt single and eventually scored on a wild pitch.
“I’m having a tough time getting off the mound with my knee,” Kopech said. “I wasn’t thrilled about it, but it was moreso the fact the first pitch of the game I got a guy on.”
Sox manager Tony La Russa was visibly chafed by his team’s lack of offense one night after the Orioles seized a 4-0 victory. The Sox’ lone run came on Jake Burger’s RBI double with two out in the second. Garcia stranded Burger to end the inning.
“We’re better than that,” La Russa said of the offensive malaise. “We have to figure out why that’s true. I’ve got some ideas, but they’re not for me to share. It’s not acceptable.
“They shut us down. Some of it was their pitching. But we’re on the other side of it.”
Sosa likely won’t get enough time to provide a sustained spark.
“Right now, [Sosa] is up here temporarily right now, right?” La Russa said before the game. “To fill in. He could go nuts and force himself into the lineup. I don’t know how many opportunities he’s going to get.
“I don’t want to discourage Sosa, but he may get three hits [Saturday] and not play Sunday, so we’ll see. But I hope he does.”
Sosa batted .331 with 14 home runs and 48 RBI in 62 games at Double-A Birmingham, but it was his nine-pitch walk that kept the Sox’s slim hopes alive in the ninth inning Thursday and caused several teammates to take notice.
At Birmingham, Sosa lowered his strikeout rate from 23.1% last season to 13.8, while his walk rate rose from 1.7 to 7.3.