White Sox 4, Tigers 2: The gift of a split

Finally, the White Sox’s ability to beat themselves came in handy.

They had to have recognized what they saw on the field against them. The Tigers jumped out to a 2-0 lead two batters in against a clearly limited Michael Kopech, only to see Kopech pitch into the sixth as he and four White Sox relievers kept them scoreless the rest of the way.

The Tigers tried to squeeze six innings out of a Drew Hutchinson who completed five innings for the first time all year his last time out, only to see him lose a battle to Gavin Sheets in the form of a game-tying homer one batter away from the finish line.

And they should’ve been out of the eighth inning with the game tied at 2 after Luis Robert hit a high, seemingly routine fly to left. But the wind kept blowing it toward center field, and Robbie Grossman never got under it. It clanked off his glove for an error that ended baseball’s longest-ever errorless streak at 440 games.

The White Sox capitalized. AJ Hinch brought in Gregory Soto, but although Soto struck out José Abreu with first base open and one out to open the series, Hinch called for the intentional walk to attempt to force Tony La Russa’s hand. Indeed he did, as La Russa took down Sheets for AJ Pollock and the righty-lefty matchup, and Pollock won it on the first pitch with a 12-hopper that bounded through the vacant right side of second and past the glove of a diving Jonathan Schoop for the go-ahead run. Eloyu Jimenéz then singled to right to score Abreu, and that’s how Liam Hendriks went from pitching in a tie game to having a save situation with a cushion.

Hendriks followed the lead of Kendall Graveman and Reynaldo López before him by throwing a perfect inning. Throw in an bases-loaded strikeout by Jimmy Lambert to end the sixth, and the White Sox bullpen retired the last 10 batters it faced to close this one out.

This game should’ve been a disaster based on the way it started. Kopech averaged just 92 mph on his fastball during the afternoon, and on top of that, he missed plenty early. His day opened with a four-pitch walk, and then Javier Baéz homered on a 1-0 count for a 2-0 lead.

Kopech’s fastball never came to him, and at one point La Russa, Ethan Katz and James Kruk came out to make sure he was OK. It’s hard to say was, but he persevered to get through five innings by leaning on his slider far more than usual. He threw breaking balls for 40 of his 82 pitches, although he only got whiffs on four of them.

It’s hard to tell whether this was the improved slider I’d hoped to see in the pregame post about him, or if this is just a function of the Tigers’ offense. Kopech never recorded a 1-2-3 inning, but he faced the minimum a couple of times because Reese McGuire nabbed Riley Greene at second to end the third, and then got Greene to ground into a double play to end the fifth. His readily apparent lack of stuff made it easier for La Russa to pull Kopech, and he went to Lambert after Kopech issued a one-out walk to Harold Castro in the sixth.

Kopech kept the White Sox in it long enough for the late-arriving offense to knot it up.

Through four innings, the White Sox hadn’t had a baserunner reach before two outs. Andrew Vaughn came the closest when he reached on a Harold Castro throwing error, but he was immediately thrown out by a flat-footed Jonathan Schoop from right field foul territory when he tried to advance to second on the play.

Runs didn’t materialize until the fifth, when Leury García led off with a single, moved to second on a groundout, then came around to score on a Yoán Moncada single to center two batters later.

In the sixth, Sheets had one of the year’s best plate appearances. He fell behind 0-2 to Hutchison, fouling back an 0-1 fastball he probably should’ve driven. He took a pitch out of the zone, then fouled off a couple pitches too close to take. Hutchison missed by more on a low changeup and a low slider to load the count, and when he came back with an inner-half fastball that was slightly lower than the one he fouled back, Sheets got every bit of it, launching it 422 feet out to right center to tie the game.

Bullet points:

*García went 2-for-4 in place of Tim Anderson in the field, while Moncada was 1-for-4 from the leadoff spot.

*The White Sox remain five back of the Twins, who won, but are now just a half-game back of the Guardians, who lost.

*Anderson is the White Sox’s only All-Star for now, as Dylan Cease was snubbed.

Record: 41-43 | Box score | Statcast

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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Nellie Fox

Anderson was given the day off and one more before the all star game? Does anyone think he should spend time off his legs because he plays baseball?

Right Size Wrong Shape

What?

Nellie Fox

Larussa said this before Sundays game with the tigers. Is that not rediculous ? Tell that to Cal Ripken.

As Cirensica

Maybe the White Sox could skip one start by Kopech so he can recover the lost speed or something. Problem is how. Maybe they can send down Lambert and bring Martin up for that start.

Yolmer's gatorade

Put Kopech on the 10 day DL now, bring up Martin and Sousa as 27th man for the doubleheader, and reset the rotation with Kopech after the All Star break.

a-t

Problem is the double header. Martin’s needed for that. If Kopech can make his one more start before the break, then I think the best plan is to have him skip one start post ASB and have like two weeks off with minimal moves.

Yolmer's gatorade

I don’t know if this version of Kopech is better against the Twins than a Davis Martin start.

soxygen

Yeah, I’d like to see them give Kopech a break. The fact that the team has given a lot of position players and relievers breaks that seemed unnecessary or ill-timed is not a reason to keep the foot on the gas with a young pitcher, and possible future ace, in his first full season of starting. He clearly needs a break, so let’s find a way to give him one.

Last edited 4 months ago by soxygen
MrStealYoBase

Not buying the Nightengale line about dysfunction amongst the players. Nobody in the front office or ownership is willing to accept responsibility for failure. It’s always someone else’s fault.

Augusto Barojas

Must have missed the Nightengale line you are referring to. But any dysfunction on this team starts with La Clown, clearly. There’s dysfunction there, enough to cost them 5 or 6 games already.

Last edited 4 months ago by Augusto Barojas
As Cirensica

5 or 6 games? You are a generous man

calcetinesblancos

Let’s see what they do before the break. But it’s hard to see the justification for adding to this team if they play like crap in the coming weeks, or at all really. I’d much rather they trade people with little control left and at least get some interesting young talent. This team is boring.

Augusto Barojas

Yeah, the only possible way it would make sense to add would be if they got a controllable core piece like Jazz Chisholm who would be with them for a while. Otherwise why bother. NO veterans with a year or two left on their contract, please.

You are right, this team is boring. I wouldn’t trade anyone if the offers weren’t good but I’d listen on Abreu, Grandal, Giolito, Lynn, Cueto, and of course Moncada if anybody would pay his salary next year. I mean who cares if they squeak into the playoffs and do a face plant for the third straight year, there is nothing to cherish about this season. They could deal any one or more of those guys and it would not mean they could not be competitive next year if they got rid of TLR and added a good free agent or two for a change. This team is a shambles and needs to be completely re-designed.

a-t

This is ridiculous. Sneaking into the playoffs means a real shot at a title in this sport— look at the defending champs! 85 wins in the regular season, weren’t over .500 for good till August, and still had Manfred’s “hunk of metal” in November.

Baseball playoffs are random enough that making them every year, even barely so, is the best path to a title. The Sox also have a team reasonably well suited to the playoffs with how strong their starting pitching is.

Last edited 4 months ago by a-t
Augusto Barojas

That’s the exact belief system responsible for this shitshow and why they’ve done nothing to improve the team the past two winters. Yeah, this team has a great chance if they can just get to the playoffs. Please. Believe in miracles and buy tickets, we are trying really hard… no thank you. The Braves didn’t have the worst manager in the history of sports, and an offense full of holes that has gotten owned by right handed starters since 2019. And Leury Garcia.

They have the same team that face planted the past two Octobers. If they even get to the playoffs this time, that’s what the overwhelmingly most likely outcome is.

HallofFrank

You’re also missing that the defending champs didn’t have their best player in the playoffs, and the one guy they built their team around.

jhomeslice

The Sox just lost 5 out of 8 at home against the Orioles and Tigers. And you’re gonna throw out talk about them winning a title, after watching this team play below .500 for the past 150+ games, seriously?

HallofFrank

I think his point was: even sneaking into the playoffs gives you a real chance at the title. And the Sox have a real chance of sneaking into the playoffs.

soxygen

Sneaking into the playoffs with a good team gives you a chance in the playoffs. Sneaking into the playoffs with a mediocre team and bad clubhouse chemistry usually leads to a first round exit.

calcetinesblancos

Yeah I forgot about The Russa and his playoff “managing.” After watching him in the playoffs last year, they’ll never win anything with him at the helm; the only way he can tell that a pitcher is gassed is when they give up fifty runs. Zero feel for the game, I mean it was just awful.

metasox

Beyond making adjustments, have the Sox said any more about what is afflicting Kopech? His leg issue? Dead arm period?

itaita

We can only guess but the post the other day pointed to his leg potentially costing him velo cause he cant drive as much. His ball is moving around and anything that would be considered arm related seems to be off the table.

peanutsNcrackerjack

Well things are not as dire as they should be given the quality of play in the first half. Destiny is squarely in the hands of the White Sox going into the final week before ASG. Last year with pretty much the same rosters on both sides (except Buxton rather than Donaldson) they dominated both Cleveland and Minn. Time to put on their Bigboy pants and take back control of the division.

Holland23

This definitely is the better form of beating themselves.