In case you were wondering what the last two nights would’ve looked like without late-inning heroics, here you go.
Although he fell into an early hole like Dylan Cease and Johnny Cueto before him the previous two nights, Michael Kopech pitched pretty well. Joe Kelly, Jake Diekman and Reynaldo López all threw a scoreless inning out of the bullpen.
But while the White Sox offense out-chanced the Astros, they couldn’t do much with their opportunities. The White Sox went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and grounded into three double plays, including one that killed a golden moment with the bases loaded, which is how they came up one run short this time around to end their five-game winning streak.
The game turned — or stopped turning, more precisely — in the bottom of the fourth. After Kopech got touched up for a couple runs during a three-hit, two-double rally in the top of the inning, the White Sox had an answer against Framber Valdez. Eloy Jiménez singled, José Abreu walked, and Yoán Moncada smashed a double off a diving Alex Bregman to score Jiménez while putting runners on second and third.
A five-pitch Yasmani Grandal walk backfilled first base to load the bases with still nobody out and the Sox trailing 3-1. Four pitches later, the rally was over. Josh Harrison grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, and Adam Engel struck out on three pitches. One run scored on the DP, and I was a little surprised that Jeremy Pena didn’t go home with it, but trading the run for the extra out held up.
The Sox grounded into double plays in the sixth and seventh innings as well, but they managed to avoid a twin killing in the eighth, as Dusty Baker tried a different bridge to Ryan Pressly. Ryne Stanek walked Jiménez with one out, after which Luis Robert entered as a pinch runner. José Abreu then half-swung an infield single to the gap on the left side. Moncada had a chance to be a hero for the third consecutive night, but while he got ahead 2-1, he ended up looking at fastballs on the inside and outside corner for the strikeout. Yasmani Grandal then got ahead 3-1, but he swung at ball four above the zone and popped out.
Pressly had no such issues, ending the game with a strikeout of Romy González, who had to hit for himself in his first game back in the majors since Gavin Sheets entered for Engel a batter before.
The Sox couldn’t get Kopech off the hook, so he’ll have to settle for a quality start while he record fell to 4-9. José Altuve took advantage of Kopech early, drawing a four-pitch walk, stealing second and third base and scoring on a sac fly for a first-inning lead. Kopech then tightened it up. He suffered the two-run fourth, although the second run scored when McCormick threw his bat at a pitch well outside and connected for an RBI double somehow.
He only got seven whiffs on 90 pitches, but he also only needed 90 pitches over six innings, so he gave Tony La Russa length without being particularly taxed.
*Moncada had a maddening game. He had a great at-bat and an awful one, and he lost track of the outs in an inning when he took his time recording the force at second on a potential double-play ball, only to make a fantastic play on Chas McCormick’s bunt attempt.
*A kid ran out on the field late in the game and gave Adam Engel a brief hug. No word on his BAC.
*González started at shortstop with Leury García on the IL, and he doubled in his first at-bat back from Charlotte, so he didn’t come away empty-handed.
*Speaking of shortstop:
*The Twins and Guardians both won, so the White Sox slipped back into third, with a game separating each team.