Angels 4, White Sox 1: Ohtani too much for Sox hitters

Last night was a breath of fresh air. After four lackluster innings from the Chicago White Sox offense, they woke up to put up 11 runs and shock the Los Angeles Angels. At least on paper, tonight wasn’t going to be an easy task duplicating that power production against Shohei Ohtani. His pitch mix of elite fastball velocity, slider, and splitter has given White Sox hitters headaches for years. At least the White Sox were countering with Michael Kopech.

Those good vibes were put in check early. The White Sox made Ohtani sweat a bit in the first inning as Tim Anderson, and Jose Abreu collected singles. After a wild pitch moved Anderson and Abreu up 90 feet, Ohtani punched out Gavin Sheets to end the threat keeping the game scoreless.

Kopech did not have the same luck. Mike Trout hit an RBI double to put the Angels ahead, and then Kopech couldn’t field Anderson’s return throw on an attempted 3-6-1 double play. That error allowed Trout to score, and once again this series, the Angels were ahead early 2-0.

The following scoring opportunity for the White Sox came in the fourth inning. Ohtani already had racked up six strikeouts, but Luis Robert reached on an infield single, and Abreu picked up his second single of the night. Sheets smoked a line drive that traveled 104 mph off the bat, but Trout ran it down with Robert not tagging up.

AJ Pollock had a good fastball to hit but fouled off. After laying off one splitter in the dirt, Pollock whiffed on the second splitter. With two outs, it was up to Leury Garcia to cash in the scoring opportunity. In a spirited battle, Garcia fouled off difficult pitches to stay alive. On 3-2, Garcia watched Ohtani’s curveball miss the zone. His walk loaded the bases.

Next was Josh Harrison, who drove in three runs the previous night. Searching for a fastball to hit, Harrison fouled off Ohtani’s 100-mph four-seamer before whiffing for a strikeout on the slider. White Sox hitters made Ohtani’s pitch count climb, but there was still nothing to show for that effort.

Meanwhile, Michael Kopech found his rhythm after the turbulent first inning as the Angels were held scoreless for the next four innings. Kopech didn’t have his best stuff this evening as the average four-seamer velocity was 1.4 mph below his season average. The spin rate for all his pitches was below average, and Kopech generated just 11 whiffs along with a 23% Called Strike Whiff (CSW) rate after five innings.

Looking at the data, it’s not impressive, but for those who remember watching Kopech pitch in Birmingham, he’s come a long way in maturing as a starting pitcher. A lot of scouts love to tout “pitchability” when watching pitchers. Can they master the art of getting batters out without premium stuff? Kopech didn’t have his premium stuff tonight but still managed to keep the White Sox within striking distance.

Ohtani left in the sixth inning after allowing a third single to Abreu but got Sheets to whiff at a slider out of the strike zone. Even though Ohtani lasted just 5.2 innings, he only allowed five hits and one walk while striking out 11 White Sox hitters.

Left-handed reliever Jose Quijada took over for Ohtani and was greeted by Pollock, who slapped a single to right field. Abreu advanced to third base on the hit to put runners on the corners. With a lefty on the mound, it seemed like a good opportunity for manager Tony La Russa to go to his bench to pinch-hit for Garcia. But in La Russa’s manual, “Managing like a Hall-of-Famer,” pinch hits are not allowed before the eighth inning.

Naturally, Garcia hit a slow roller back to Quijada for the final out, leaving more runners on base and keeping the White Sox scoreless.

Then La Russa opted to stick with Kopech for the sixth inning despite being at 90 pitches. It started well with Kopech striking out Ohtani, but Jared Walsh singled to center field. Velocity on the four-seamer was hovering between 92 and 93 mph. Pretty clear that Kopech was running on fumes.

Sure enough, instead of bringing in a reliever to face Luis Rengifo, La Russa watched Kopech’s 93-mph fastball travel 408 feet for a two-run homer. Now the Angels were up by four runs with Reynaldo Lopez trotting out of the bullpen. Kopech’s final line was 5.1 IP 5 H 4 R 3 ER 2 BB 6 K.

Abreu picked up his fourth single of the night in the eighth inning. That base knock came after Robert reached on a throwing error to give Sheets another opportunity to make a dent in the deficit. He failed to do so, grounding into a fielder’s choice. Beating out a double-play attempt did work in the White Sox’s favor. Ryan Tepera’s slider five-holed Max Stassi and allowed Robert to score on the wild pitch.

That was the White Sox only run. A night after they flexed their power to 11 runs, the offense reverted back to their inability to generate runs against a premium right-handed pitcher. One day they will figure it out.

Game Notes:

  • Jose Abreu’s four-hit night raises his season slash line to .284/.375/.451. While the home runs are lacking, the OPS is getting back to career normal.
  • Andrew Vaughn was given the night off by Tony La Russa to rest his legs after playing back-to-back games. Not sure if we should be worried about a 24-year old having tired legs.
  • Reynaldo Lopez, Jose Ruiz, and Kendall Graveman combined 2.2 scoreless innings with four strikeouts.

Record: 35-39 | Box Score | StatCast

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Josh Nelson
Josh Nelson

Josh Nelson is the host and producer of the Sox Machine Podcast. For show suggestions, guest appearances, and sponsorship opportunities, you can reach him via email at josh@soxmachine.com.

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Trooper Galactus

One day
When my life has passed me by
I’ll look around, and I’ll wonder why
This team couldn’t score more runs

jhomeslice

The answer you seek lies in the bottom 4 hitters in their lineup, who combined for 1 hit and 6 K’s. If they swapped those 4 out for even league average hitters, they might actually be able to score. Their bottom 3 are just the worst. Maybe ever.

At least nobody can lament the Madrigal trade, him with all of 2 rbi’s. He’s been on the DL about 2/3 of the time since his MLB debut. If they still had him it would solve pretty much nothing.

a-t

winning the run differential, losing the series. now there’s the bozos i love and cherish

i’m not super pressed about not scoring off Ohtani but bringing in a lefty reliever for 1.2IP vs this team is just taunting

Jim Margalus

One stat I didn’t believe when I looked it up: The Walsh single and Rengifo homer were the first hits Kopech allowed the third time through the order this season. Hitters were 0-for-29 against him in their third plate appearances entering tonight.

Joliet Orange Sox

I’m surprised by this as well. The homer came on Kopech’s 99th pitch of the night which was the most pitches he’s thrown this year (although not by much, he’s exceeded 90 pitches six other times including 98 pitches against the Dodgers on June 7). The homer also came off a fastball traveling at 93.0 mph which was below Kopech’s average speed of 93.8 mph tonight and more below his season average of 95.2 mph.

I’m very skeptical that Kopech is somehow more effective the third time through because if that were the case he would have faced more than 29 batters in that situation in his previous 13 starts (which includes the start he left in the first). I’m not sure what this all means.

Last edited 5 months ago by Joliet Orange Sox
a-t

i’m reasonably sure it has to with kopech’s load management, since he went from 0 innings in ’20 to 69.1 last year, and with this start is just under that innings mark already. these past two starts his velo’s been down noticeably a couple mph, which i’d attribute to the knee issue from two starts ago, but even before that he was selectively using 93-95 early in games and early in counts. I think that’s basically the strategy for his usage this year, to be pitch efficient and let his fastball’s crazy ride get lots of fly ball outs instead of trying to blow everyone away. Which he can still do when he wants to, as 1) the yankees and dodgers saw and 2) when he knows it’s his last inning of work and can ramp up the intensity. I think the latter is why he’s been so effective three times through.

basically it’s the same thing Rodon (and Verlander) are known for, showing bigger velo and nastier stuff the third time through by putting a restrictor plate on themselves early in the game. the power stuff is so good at baseline that it still plays well even when tamped down, and it’s also available to reach back for in case of a jam. it’s just less for strategic purposes of trying to go deep in games and more for health reasons with a guy about to blow by last year’s innings total with more than half the season still left

Joliet Orange Sox

An additional fact of interest is that prior to this game, I think Kopech had only left one previous game mid-inning (against the Cubs after Madrigal led off the bottom of the 5th with a single). This may fit with your suggestion that Kopech may reach back for a bit extra to get the last batter or two he faces knowing he’s done at the end of the inning (who would be guys he was facing for the third time in many games).

In this game, Kopech threw 7 fastballs in the sixth with a max speed of 94.9 mph, a min speed of 92.3 mph, and an average speed of 93.13 mph. The last 7 fastballs that Kopech threw while ending the fifth had a max speed of 94.9 mph, a min speed of 93.5 mph, and an average speed of 94.26 mph. Did he reach back to end the fifth or was he just tired in the sixth? A question for people who know more about this than I do.

(Note: I’m very aware I included too many significant figures in the averages above.)

Last edited 5 months ago by Joliet Orange Sox
Joliet Orange Sox

The average of 94.26 mph should be 94.20 mph. Typo.

soxygen

“Then La Russa opted to stick with Kopech for the sixth inning despite being at 90 pitches.”

I’ve been keeping an eye on other team’s pitcher usage recently. An interesting example from yesterday was that San Diego pulled Clevinger after 86 pitches (then brought Martinez in for a 3 inning save!).

Texas pulled Dunning after 86 pitches as well.

Last edited 5 months ago by soxygen
upnorthsox

Ohtani went 108 pitches, Irvin 103, Tailon 101, Verlander 101, Bumgarner 105, Suarez 110, Pivetta 109, and Alcantara 117. What did all these guys have in common besides not being data points of the “Fire Tony!” agenda?

So I’ll ask, What would Miguel Cairo do?

Jim Margalus

I’ll ask: Why not find out?

jhomeslice

Cairo or any half functioning adult within 10 years of the average AL managerial age of 52 would be an immediate improvement worth trying.

upnorthsox

Absolutely, but we shouldn’t have to wait to find out as we only use hindsight and so already know the outcome. Next question, who is going to do it? GMs don’t get to pick their 4th manager especially when they have a .458 winning percentage and no titles.

Jim Margalus

Jerry Reinsdorf GMs do.

upnorthsox

Only if KW comes out of retirement to pick his 4th. He does have the WS title though.

Jim Margalus

I was referring to John Paxson, although he had titles as a player. Then again, Hahn has the ring as assistant GM, so he’s a protected class.

As Cirensica

Hindsight? You call this hindsight? TLR might be one of the most predictable (bad) managers in the Majors that at this point is just a tedious exercise, and quite frankly extenuating.

calcetinesblancos

Just out of curiosity, how many of the managers under Hahn do we believe he actually picked?

Right Size Wrong Shape

Pitch count aside, I thought it was pretty clear that Kopech was spent after the 5th. He lost command on everything and was leaving everything up in the zone. He also had a Garcia-level sweat going on.

soxygen

Sweaty Freddy! He was one of my favorites. That guy understood tunneling before it was a thing.

soxygen

In response to the question, I can tell you what Clevinger and Dunning have in common with Kopech – they are building up to being able to handle a full starter’s workload.

As Cirensica

No wonder players need constant rest if La Clown refuses to use his bench or relievers properly.

jhomeslice

There should be a statue of Tony outside Sox park with the caption “Worst there ever was, worst there ever will be”.

upnorthsox

Well there is the small issue of the bench being “unavailable”

What would Miguel Cairo do?

As Cirensica

As Jim mentioned above, I would love to find out.

Last edited 5 months ago by As Cirensica
chipporter

Not sure about AV’s tired legs, but I’ve watched him look bad at the plate lately and seen the BA steadily dropping.

calcetinesblancos

I wonder if the opposing manager is always confused why The Russa isn’t making this or that obvious strategic move, or if they just expect him to be asleep at the wheel at this point.