BALTIMORE — The Chicago White Sox want their young pitchers looking strong down the stretch as they eye a step forward in 2019.
Reynaldo Lopez is doing his part.
Lopez was sharp again Saturday night over seven innings to continue his late-season surge and lift the Chicago White Sox to a 2-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
The 24-year-old Lopez (6-9) has a 1.10 ERA over his past five starts. He struck out six and allowed four hits and a walk this time to help Chicago to just its sixth winning streak of at least three games.
In his first full big league season, Lopez has thrown 175 2/3 innings, and White Sox manager Rick Renteria has no plans to pull the reins back.
“Basically, our eyes are telling us where they’re at,” Renteria said. “If you look at Lopy, he’s freaking throwing 97-98 mph. I’d be hard-pressed to tell you guys he’s really struggling.”
Yolmer Sanchez broke a scoreless tie with an RBI double in the sixth, chasing rookie Yefry Ramirez (1-6) from his longest big league outing with two outs. Avisail Garcia tied a career high with his 18th home run in the ninth.
Caleb Frare retired two batters in the eighth, and Juan Minaya got the last four outs for his first save as the Orioles were shut out for the 14th time this season.
“It would have been a little different situation if we didn’t let them have that tack-on run,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. “But you’re not going to win any games not scoring any runs.”
Lopez was acquired from Washington after the 2016 season in the trade that sent outfielder Adam Eaton to the Nationals. The hard-throwing right-hander has been inconsistent since the deal but excellent down the stretch.
“He’s showing you he’s got endurance, strength, (and) he’s gaining understanding of the situation, how to work and manage the situations, which is really big,” Renteria said. “It speaks a lot for him, because he continues to work and grind and learn.”
He retired 13 out of 14 batters before Renato Nunez singled in the fifth and became the first runner to reach second on Lopez’s wild pitch. DJ Stewart popped out to end the threat.
Two innings later, Lopez worked out of a two-on, one-out jam. He fanned Tim Beckham with a curveball to end a 10-pitch at-bat, then pumped his fist as Nunez popped his 104th pitch to second.
“I was just trying to keep the control of the game,” Lopez said through an interpreter. “Sometimes the game is a little fast. And then you have to control it. You have to slow down. And I think that is what I did in that inning.”