The Chicago White Sox 2023 season hasn’t provided many highlights, but watching Liam Hendriks jog out of the bullpen is one of them. A standing ovation from a Monday night crowd at Guaranteed Rate Field was loud enough to force Hendriks to pause and acknowledge the adoring faithful. His first pitch was 96 mph down the middle for a strike.
Making his first appearance since his cancer diagnosis and treatment, Hendriks made it through the eighth inning on 27 pitches. For all Hendriks has been through, that in itself was a victory. The Los Angeles Angels scored two runs off Hendriks, and now we wait to see the next step for his return to normalcy. It was apparent control was off for Hendriks, but his max velocity of 96.6 mph is a good sign.
As for the other eight innings, Michael Kopech had a rough first inning in which he allowed back-to-back home runs. The Angels jumped out to a 4-0 lead and held on to win 6-4.
Kopech’s outing is a bit weird because, after that opening frame, he flirted with more danger in the second inning walking and hitting another batter. But he escaped that jam without allowing a run and ultimately stopped the Angels hitters from scoring. Even though Kopech lasted 4.2 innings because of his pitch count reaching 102, he struck out 10 batters and didn’t walk another batter after the second inning.
The impressive whiff rate also held for Kopech, facing a better lineup than what Kansas City and Cleveland could offer. Angels hitters swung at 47 of Kopech’s pitches resulting in 17 whiffs, or a 36% whiff rate. That’s still very good coming from Kopech, and a moment of regret in how that first inning played out.
While the White Sox were in an early hole, the offense chipped away. Andrew Benintendi doubled in the first inning and would later score off Eloy Jimenez’s two-out single. Then solo home runs from Andrew Vaughn and Romy Gonzalez made it a one-run game.
In the ninth inning, Jimenez belted a solo home run to make it a 6-4 game, and the White Sox showed some late life. Vaughn singled, and Sheets walked with one out, providing an opportunity for a walk-off win. Manager Pedro Grifol had Jake Burger pinch hit, but he didn’t have any home-cooking magic in his bat tonight as he popped into an Infield Fly rule. That left the game up to Yasmani Grandal.
On a sharp grounder, Angels shortstop Zach Neto made a terrific stop, but he still had to make a throw. With the slow-footed Vaughn heading to third base, Neto pump-faked a throw to that bag, second-guessing that opportunity. Even though Neto looked for a throw at third base, he still had enough time to throw out Grandal at first base ending the game.
- Andrew Vaughn and Eloy Jimenez had multi-hit games.
- Gregory Santos, Keynan Middleton, and Aaron Bummer had good nights out of the bullpen. The trio combined for 3.2 IP 0 H 0 R 2 BB 6 K. Both Middleton and Bummer struck out the side.
- White Sox are now 10-23 against non-AL Central opponents.