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It was a busy pregame for news coming from the White Sox. Nobody appears to know for sure when Luis Robert will return, and Rick Hahn made a trade with Boston. After sending Christian Vazquez to Houston, the Red Sox needed a catcher, and Reese McGuire was available. In exchange for a left-handed hitting catcher, Hahn could check one of his trade deadline to-do list items of filling the need for a left-handed reliever with Jake Diekman.
Probably the best news was Kansas City announcing LHP Daniel Lynch was coming off the IL and would start Monday’s game. As a team, the White Sox were hitting .280/.341/.438 and had the 4th best OPS in MLB. For a team struggling to produce offense at home, the news of the Royals starting Lynch was welcomed.
The White Sox first time through the order against Lynch was a mess. Only Andrew Vaughn had a base hit, ripping a single in the first inning, but Lynch racked up five strikeouts. White Sox didn’t mount a threat until Tim Anderson hit a comebacker off Lynch’s leg for an infield single. Yoan Moncada poked another single to put runners on the corners. After watching a changeup float for strike one, Vaughn made a mistake chasing at a fastball eye level that he popped up ending the inning.
The first two innings have given Michael Kopech fits in 2022. Before tonight, Kopech had a 30 K to 26 BB ratio in the first and second inning, with his numbers getting much better facing a lineup a second time. Tonight was a different story for Kopech. He ensured Yoan Moncada was warmed up as he fielded all three groundouts in the first inning. Kopech only threw seven pitches which was a great sign.
Kopech was grooving for three innings. Flashing the velocity we saw last year coming out of the bullpen, Kopech hit 98.6 mph on his fastball while keeping Kansas City scoreless through three innings. Facing Salvador Perez for the second time, Kopech hung a slider off the outside corner that got pulverized. Perez hit it over the batter’s eye in center field, traveling 452 feet, giving the Royals a 1-0 lead.
As the wind picked up inside Guaranteed Rate Field, Kopech’s mistake breaker to Whit Merrifield took flight for a solo home run in the sixth inning. After striking out Vinnie Pasquantino, Kopech screamed into his glove in anger, walking off the mound. Allowing just two runs over six innings is pretty good, but with this offense at home, it’s a slim margin of error for White Sox pitchers.
That offense showed some life when Vaughn’s liner sailed over Michael A. Taylor’s head in center field for a leadoff double. Abreu smoked a line drive with an exit velocity of 108 mph, but it was right at Merrifield for unlucky out. That was enough for Royals manager Mike Matheny, who replaced Lynch with Wyatt Mills with a low, sidearm delivery. Jimenez topped a low slider resulting in a groundout. With two outs, it was up to Yasmani Grandal to drive-in Vaughn.
Last year, this situation was one White Sox fans looked to as Grandal delivered almost every time. Today, Grandal is having a career-worst season hitting and mustered a slow grounder ending the inning. A leadoff double once again resulted in no runs scored.
Tony La Russa pushed Kopech into the seventh inning, and that decision was off to a good start. Hunter Dozier and Nick Pratto flew out to start the frame, but Kopech got into trouble. He walked Taylor, and Nicky Lopez got just enough for a single to right field putting runners on the corners. Now at 96 pitches, La Russa stuck with Kopech against Maikel Garcia. This type of situation is where managers end up being a hero or cast blame. The game would be over if Garcia got a hanging slider and crushed it as Perez or Merrifield did.
Instead, Kopech got Garcia to pop out to the White Sox Garcia ending the jam. On 100 pitches, Kopech went 7 IP 6 H 2 ER 2 R 1 BB 3 K. The two solo home runs were his only blemishes.
White Sox finally scored in the bottom half of the seventh. Garcia reached on an infield single as his slow roller stayed fair and advanced to third base when Seby Zavala singled to right field. La Russa had Gavin Sheets pinch hit for Adam Engel, and Matheny countered by going to his bullpen again for Dylan Coleman.
Ahead 2-0, Sheets lifted a fastball to left field, resulting in a sacrifice fly. Coleman was still in a jam after walking Moncada, putting the onus on Vaughn to come up with the big hit. Thanks to a tremendous defensive play by Merrifield and a pick by Pratto at first base, Vaughn came up empty as the White Sox still trailed 2-1.
In the ninth inning, Sheets singled with one out to keep the pressure on, but Anderson grounded into a 5-4-3 double play ending the game.
Despite racking up ten hits, the White Sox lost because in today’s baseball death by home runs is still more efficient than paper-cut singles.
- Minnesota Twins were down 3-2 in the 10th inning, but a walk-off HR from Gio Urshela saved the day.
- Amed Rosario had the game-winning hit as Cleveland beat Arizona in 11 innings.
- White Sox drop back to three games behind Minnesota and now two games back of Cleveland in AL Central.