The White Sox endured their first flawed doubleheader of the season, but they’re still 5-1 in twin bills this year. As poorly as they’ve performed in extra innings, it seems like they have the pitching staff for seven-inning games.
That’s a compliment both forehand and backhand. It’s great to have a guy like Michael Kopech in reserve, able to come out of the bullpen and get the game past the halfway point with just four innings. It’s also great when the White Sox can go straight from those four innings to their high-leverage crew, without having to fiddle with their troublesome lower-leverage crew.
No matter how you interpret it, Kopech allowed just a solo homer of damage over four innings, which made Andrew Vaughn’s two-run homer enough to decide the game. A bases-loaded walk added insurance they didn’t use, and now they’ll head into a favorable pitching matchup of Carlos Rodón versus the left-handed Mike Minor.
The White Sox offense had another underwhelming showing against a mostly righty Johnny Wholestaff game, although the lineup had something to do with it. With José Abreu out from the Game 1 collision and Tim Anderson and Yasmani Grandal both sitting, the Sox didn’t put all hands on deck to avoid the sweep.
Fortunately, one big swing was enough to swing the game. Jake Junis, who really isn’t an answer for Kopech among swingmen, dodged first-inning trouble with the second sketchy called strike three in as many games, but immediately encountered issues when Adam Eaton led off with a double. Eaton missed a homer by an inch, as it hit off the yellow padding and bounced back into play.
Vaughn’s drive had a couple dozen feet to spare. After getting ahead 3-0, Junis worked his way back into a full count. Vaughn appeared to miss his pitch when he fouled off a cutter that split the plate on 3-2, but when Junis came back with a better pitch, Vaughn somehow had the answer. It was a high sinker, sure, but you normally don’t expect low-90s sinkers up and in to end up 15 rows deep in the pull-field seats. Vaughn launched it 421 feet to left for the first two runs of the game.
Although Vaughn cleared the bases, the White Sox reloaded them with a Zack Collins double, a one-out Danny Mendick walk off new pitcher Tyler Zuber, and a line drive from Nick Madrigal that rattled in and out of the glove of third baseman Hanser Alberto. Leury García came to the plate as usual, and he struck out on three pitches.
Mike Matheny came out to pull Zuber for lefty Jake Brentz, figuring he’d flip Yoán Moncada to his weaker side. The risk is that Brentz doesn’t always throw strikes, and sure enough, Brentz walked Moncada on five pitches for the third run.
That was all the Sox needed. Kopech was excellent outside of a solo shot by Carlos Santana. Otherwise he allowed a single and two walks while striking out five, and threw 40 of 65 pitches for strikes. The fastball was its usual weapon, but he also had success with the curve, grabbing called strikes with four of the nine he threw to give the Royals a new look.
He probably could’ve been called upon for a fifth inning, but Tony La Russa chose to trust his late-inning formula, even though it involved Liam Hendriks for a third day in a row. Codi Heuer pitched around a single with two strikeouts, Aaron Bummer looked dominant again, while Hendriks had to work around a bunt single by Jarrod Dyson. Collins helped him out with a proactive play on a spinning nubber that could’ve turned out disastrous, and while Hendriks flirted with walking Nicky Lopez by going 3-0 on him with Whit Merrifield on deck representing the go-ahead run, he came back to get a harmless flyout to end the game.
*The White Sox went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, but it’s better to go 1-for-9 than 0-for-2 like KC did.
*Yermín Mercedes went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and six stranded, lowering his OPS to three digits (.993).
*Moncada and Eaton each reached base three times to help out from the left side against the mostly righty approach.
Record: 23-14 | Box score | Statcast
We went 1-1 yesterday and the rest of the division lost.
Somehow, the team keeps finding hidden success amid the obvious shortcomings and injuries. Maybe this is our year.
Already a season’s worth of memorable moments….
>Watch first game
>Gio has a bad day
>Abroo gets clobbered
>Winning Streak ends
>Don’t watch second game
>Kopech twirls Gem
>Vaughn hits another homer (I missed his first one)
I’ll stop watching Sox games, guys.
I think I suffer the same affliction. Except for me, everytime I turn the game on, the bases are loaded and leury Garcia is batting.
Always surprises me to check box score and see Leury with fewer than 8 ABs….
madrigal seems to be in a real funk. first time i’ve seen it. getting some great pitches to hit and not squaring them up at all.
He can be tedious to watch at times. He really doesn’t drive the ball at all.
He either hits seeing eye singles or grounds out.