Eloy Jiménez hit a three-run homer early, and José Abreu ended his career-long home run drought late.
In between, Michael Kopech did just enough for his first win since late July, and the bullpen posted zeroes in the final four innings to maintain his status as the pitcher of record.
As wins go, it wasn’t particularly authoritative , but it’s one of the templates the White Sox had in mind entering the season. More crucially, the Guardians and Twins both won tonight, so the White Sox had to hold serve by any means necessary.
These means were pretty straightforward, even if the Rockies spent most of the night one swing away from turning the tables. Kopech invited contact with a fastball-heavy approach, and while his fastball lacked its best velocity, it had enough life to miss barrels when needed. Two of the three hits he gave up were on weak sliders, they were consecutive, and the second one was an Alan Trejo homer that narrowed the Sox’s lead to 3-2 in the third inning, but Kopech learned his lesson.
From that point on, he was mostly fastball, and he threw just as many curves as sliders over the last two innings when he felt a need to show hitters something else. He survived an array of medium-deep flyouts and the occasional at-ém ball to an infielder, and Miguel Cairo turned it over to the bullpen after five innings and 80 pitches.
Jimmy Lambert, Reynaldo López, Kendall Graveman and Liam Hendriks each responded with a scoreless frame, and with increasing ease. Lambert alternated outs and singles, but in the correct order. López gave up a couple of 300-plus-foot flyouts to right around a strikeout, Kendall Graveman recovered from a one-out walk with a pair of strikeouts, and Liam Hendriks never brought the tying run to the plate over the course of his nine pitches.
José Abreu made life easier at the end, swinging with intent on a 2-2 slider from Justin Lawrence and sending it a few rows deep behind the left-center wall. Abreu hadn’t homered since Aug. 3, or 37 games ago, and it was particularly welcome given that the Sox hadn’t scored since the first.
Abreu’s homer made Chad Kuhl’s decision to pitch around Abreu look wiser in hindsight. In real time, it put runners on the corners with one out for Eloy Jiménez. Kuhl fell behind 1-0, then threw a get-me-over slider that sailed 428 feet into the bleachers left of center for a quick 3-0 lead.
Kuhl quieted the Sox’s bats after that. Not only did he pitch beyond the fifth inning for the first time since Memorial Day, but he worked one out into the seventh. The Sox have the tendency to look overmatched by the combination of sinkers running in and breaking balls away, and this night was no different, except for the power that had been lacking for so much of the summer.
*The defensive positioning was a triumph for the Sox tonight. The infielders were in the right spots, and Gavin Sheets recorded six putouts in right without needing max effort.
*The Graveman walk was the only free base allowed by the White Sox all night.
*Luis Robert started for the first time in a week with diminishing returns. He went 0-for-4 with strong contact his first two times up, and strikeouts the last two. He didn’t let go of the bat with the wrong hand at any point, but he still looked short of comfortable at the end.