Royals 6, White Sox 4: Pitching crises early, late

In the first inning with the game tied at 0, Michael Kopech injured his knee during warm-up tosses, registered 88 mph with his first fastball, failed to retire any four batters he faced before the second trainer visit of the day led to his departure, and all four of those Royals came around to score.

In the eighth inning with the game tied at 4, Joe Kelly loaded the bases on three pitches — two hit batters and a single. Only two of those Royals came around to score, but that was enough to decide the game.

In between, the White Sox won 4-0, if that matters for anything (it doesn’t).

This could have been an inspiring performance, because the White Sox showed some gumption in spite of their ability to only hit singles. After a quiet first three innings, the first two involving double plays, the White Sox crashed the scoreboard for three runs on five singles and a walk.

Elvis Andrus struck the big blow when his two-out liner to center glanced off the glove of a diving Michael A. Taylor. The ball only trickled eight or so feet away from him, but the way he stayed prone suggested that he thought the ball got past him and turned into somebody else’s play. The single scored both Jose Abreu, who was on third, and Yoán Moncada, who raced all the way around from first. The Sox had a chance for further damage, loading the bases on a Josh Harrison single and a Seby Zavala walk, but while AJ Pollock popped out to end the inning, three two-out runs was enough for one inning.

Alas, the fourth run was harder to come by. The Sox loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth on an Abreu single and four-pitch walks to Andrew Vaughn and Moncada, but Andrus struck out. In the sixth, Luis Robert hit a ringing two-out double to deep right-center, but it bounced on the warning track and over the fence, forcing AJ Pollock to hold up at third when he would’ve scored easily otherwise. Eloy Jiménez then grounded out.

They finally tied the game in the seventh on Andrus’ second big hit of the afternoon. After Abreu and Moncada walked around a Vaughn lineout, Andrus yanked a double to left that scored Abreu and advanced Moncada to third. That gave them two shots to get the go-ahead run home, but Harrison and Zavala both struck out.

All the while, the White Sox bullpen whipped itself into shape pretty quickly. Jimmy Lambert had a rough adjustment as the first man in for Kopech with the bases loaded and nobody out in the first. He allowed a single, walk and single before getting two outs over the final three batters of the first.

Vince Velasquez then took over in the second and threw three scoreless innings, plus the first out of the fifth. Jake Diekman then took over for the lefty-heavy portion of the lineup after Velasquez allowed a single to his final batter, and Diekman got the final two outs of the fifth. Like Velasquez, he also got the first out of the next inning until he issued a walk to Nicky Lopez.

Reynaldo López then came in and got two outs while facing one batter. Nicky Lopez was cut down stealing second when he (apparently) lost contact with the bag upon his arrival during Drew Waters’ AB, and Waters then struck out.

Here’s where La Russa might’ve wanted to do it a little differently, because López had only thrown six pitches. Perhaps he should’ve been the guy for the seventh inning, but instead La Russa chose Kendall Graveman. That wasn’t the issue — Graveman pitched around a Harrison misplay ruled a Bobby Witt Jr. single for a scoreless inning — but it whittled down his options to Joe Kelly and Jose Ruiz in the eighth.

Kelly was the obvious choice … until he threw just five of 15 pitches for strikes.

Bullet points:

*Harrison has come to the plate 19 times with a runner on third and fewer than two outs, and he has three RBIs to show for those situations.

*Vaughn has grounded into four double plays over the last three games, which limited the effectiveness of José Abreu reaching all five times (three singles, two walks).

*The Sox walked seven times against five strikeouts, while the Royals drew six walks against seven strikeouts. The Royals were also plunked four times, compared to once for the Sox.

*Kopech has the Vague Leg:

Record: 62-60 | 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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hitlesswonder

I think it’s not a hot take at this point to say the Sox should clean out the coaching staff. You could convince me that Katz could stay, since he’s the only outside the Sox family hire in recent memory and the pitching staff has had a few surprising successes.

Speaking of the pitching staff, I feel like Joe Kelly is emblematic of how the TLR hire messed up this team. I can only imagine that TLR wanted Kelly despite injury and age and now he’s out there instead of Tepera. It was a small-scale yet awful misallocation of resources that represents so many of those decisions.

Anyway, letting Kopech try to pitch today would be a firable offense in a functional organization.

soxygen
dongutteridge

No worries. Wait till they get to the easy part of the schedule.

As Cirensica

VAChisox

When was the last time an MLB team had no players with 20 HRs?

soxygen

This team is no Lars Nootbar

ParisSox

Yeah but wait until the weather warms up and we aren’t playing with the dead ball.

As Cirensica

I think one of the main reasons the White Sox aren’t hitting homers is their tendency to swing at everything. This is definitely on Menechino. Pitchers don’t see the need to throw strikes in the middle of the plate because they know they can get by with borderline pitches, many of which would have been balls. Pitchers are getting fouls and strikes on those pitches, and once the hitter is on a pitcher’s favorable count, the hitter is pretty much screwed. They get defensive swings, and the chances of a homer is even less.

I wonder how the percentage of homers by the White Sox players came on counts with 2 strikes.

This problem might be the reason as well as to why the White Sox do miserably with man on 3B with fewer than 2 outs. Hitters get into 2 strikes count with garbage pitches.

This is a serious problem in my opinion, and the organization/coach staff seems to be doing nothing about it.

Last edited 3 months ago by As Cirensica
roke1960

We all know there is absolutely no accountability for the manager. But it’s now painfully obvious that there is no accountability for the third base coach and the hitting coach, and more than likely any coach in the system. What kind of stupid does it take to have a team loaded with slow, lumbering power hitters and impress on them the importance of hitting singles?

Last edited 3 months ago by roke1960
Root Cause

Today I am grateful that this is not a flag football team.

Shingos Cheeseburgers

You just know that they’re waiting for any sustained momentum so they can send out STH renewals and playoff invoices and, well…good luck with that

ActiveAndUnavailable

I am still struggling with the fact that we’ve gone from the worst case scenario of them not making the playoffs in 2022 to the “new worse case” of TLR and the whole staff and Front Office being here in 2023 under the guise of “injuries and short spring training” and hoping the players get back to the “back of the baseball card.”

I can’t believe that the only move that has been made this year is the releasing of Dallas Keuchel (warranted, don’t get me wrong).

At the end of the season, I want someone on the beat to ask leadership to explain the lack of power for a team that was supposed to be competing for most HRs in MLB, and now instead, is currently leading the AL in GIDP and has the worst ground out to air out ratio.

Last edited 3 months ago by ActiveAndUnavailable
roke1960

Well, I stuck to my word and did not follow either of the last two games. Though I missed the Cueto masterpiece, I certainly didn’t miss anything today. As hittlesswonder said above, in any other organization, letting Kopech pitch today while he was clearly compromised would be a fireable offense. But in this laughingstock of an organization, it is business as usual. I really don’t see how they can win the division this year with a complete jackass managing the team. He just continues to find a way to sabotage most games. I really don’t think I will be following any games for awhile. It’s just too frustrating to watch something, immediately think that that is the wrong decision, then watching disaster strike. It happens far too frequently- and I just don’t want to ruin most of my evenings. I still hope they win, but I just don’t see how they can sustain anything when their manager continues to make wrong decision after wrong decision.

charlie

They don’t deserve to affect my mood this way but that’s the definition of an addiction.

Nellie Fox

Harrison got 3 outs and gave up 4 runs, kopech got nobody out. Bingo we have a replacement

JimMargalusBiggestFan

The White Sox buy used socks and then blame their overwhelming foot odor on “bad luck”

calcetinesblancos

The irony.

shaggy65

I blame this loss on the KC 3rd base coach. When O’Hearn hit a soft single into LF with two men on and nobody out in the 8th any coach who’s a real man would’ve sent their baserunner to get thrown out at home plate.

The Sox were so perplexed after that play–it’s no wonder they couldn’t focus on the rest of the game.

calcetinesblancos

It would be funny for Sox brass to see all the bitterness, sarcasm, and apathy on this board

patrick

I advocate for Jim and Josh to start the Offseason Plan Project now to at least give us something to take our minds off this misery. There’s at least some hope in that?

roke1960

And if the OPP has Tony remaining as the manager, it is automatically thrown out!!