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Michael Kopech threw a clunker tonight, but if the White Sox imported Dylan Cease’s performance from the previous night, they still probably would’ve lost.
The reason I say “probably” is that maybe the butterfly effect of being down one versus down four to eight runs changes the way the game unfolds. But if Dane Dunning’s effort — and the effort Dunning coaxed out of White Sox hitters tonight — translated cleanly from one scenario to the other, the Sox didn’t have much of a chance.
Dunning held the Sox to a Yoán Moncada single and an Eloy Jiménez walk over seven innings, with Yasmani Grandal contributing a two-out double in the ninth inning for the only other entry in the hit column. Dunning struck out six Sox on top of 12 groundouts, and Andrew Vaughn’s deep lineout in the second inning was the White Sox’s only ball in the air with anything close to triple-digit exit velocity. It’s hard to tell whether Dunning was great, or whether he was merely great at being the kind of right-handed pitcher who can so easily baffle the White Sox lineup.
Kopech came out matching him pitch for pitch, but the wheels came off in the third, starting when Ezequiel Duran ambushed his first pitch for a solo shot. Kopech recovered to retire the next two batters, but he lost a nine-pitch battle to Marcus Semien with a walk, followed by a first-pitch single to Corey Seager, followed by another nine-pitch walk to Nathaniel Lowe that loaded the bases. Adolis Garcia then pulled a 3-1 fastball through the left side for a two-run single that effectively decided the game.
Kopech threw 38 pitches during the third inning, so when the fourth inning started in similar fashion, Tony La Russa came out to pull him one out into the inning, and 74 pitches into the night.
José Ruiz and Matt Foster got the game through six with minimal damage — a Ruiz wild pitch allowed one of the runners he inherited from Kopech to score — but Tanner Banks gave up a bases-clearing double to Garcia that piled dirt on the grave. He did get through the final two innings without a need for another pitcher, which was more the point.
*Grandal exchanged words with Josh Smith following a strikeout in the seventh inning because Smith’s backswing clipped Grandal a couple of times during a frustrating evening. Nothing came of it.
*José Abreu made a couple of nice over-the-shoulder grabs in foul territory, including a nifty sliding catch in the first inning.
*Leury García started at second and made a diving catch on a line drive to shallow right field.
*Yoán Moncada unsuccessfully played a hop off to his side and was charged with an error.
*Tim Anderson’s miserable series continued with an 0-for-4, and he might’ve hurt his hand during his last at-bat.