White Sox 7, Tigers 2: Michael Kopech impresses in encore

These are the kind of games a White Sox fan can get used to after all that was endured in April and May. Thanks to an extended start from Michael Kopech, and the offense clicking with two outs, the White Sox win three out of four against the Detroit Tigers thanks to their 7-2 victory on Sunday. Improving the record in August to 14-10, and the White Sox are now above .500 since the All-Star break sporting an 18-17 record.

With no rain in the forecast, all eyes were on Michael Kopech making his second start with the hope he’d pitch more than two innings. It took seven pitches, but Kopech was able to strike out the first batter of the game in Jemier Candelario, and the next ball Niko Goodrum grounded out to first base. Facing Nicholas Castellanos with two outs, Kopech made quick work of him throwing three fastballs in the zone including a dart on the outside corner for his second strikeout.

In the second inning, Victor Martinez introduced himself to Kopech as the notorious White Sox killer by singling up the middle on a 95-mph fastball. Inducing two flyouts, Kopech was hit in the leg by Mike Mahtook’s grounder up the middle for an infield single. Manager Rick Renteria checked on Kopech but decided to keep the rookie on the mound. Detroit couldn’t capitalize with runners on as Ronny Rodriquez flew out to center.

Sticking with mostly fastball and slider through the first two innings, Kopech started to mix in a changeup in the third inning. Throwing two to Goodrum in his second at-bat to start, and then blowing a 96-mph fastball by for Kopech’s third strikeout of the day. Smooth sailing ran into some choppy waters in the fourth inning, as Kopech hit Castellanos with a slider that got away. Martinez made a loud out with a fly ball to right field, but Jim Anducci singled putting runners on the corners with just one out.

In a jam, Kopech threw three straight sliders to James McCann who couldn’t make contact resulting in a strikeout. However, Kopech hit Mahtook to load the bases for Rodriquez. After a mound visit, Kopech on a 1-1 slider to Rodriquez got a short fly ball to center where Adam Engel made the easy catch to escape without allowing a run.

Kopech’s best inning came in the fifth even though he didn’t strike out anyone. That’s because he was able to get to a 0-2 count against each hitter and generate weak contact for easy outs. All it took for Kopech was nine pitches, and the rookie was pitching a shutout halfway through. Unfortunately, the sixth inning wasn’t easy, as Castellanos and Martinez hit back-to-back doubles to produce the first run against Kopech. It got pretty dicey from there as Adam Engel slipped while tracking Jim Anducci’s liner to center and trapped the ball. Martinez didn’t make his way to third because it appeared for a moment that Engel possibly caught it. McCann flew out to center for the first out, but Mahtook followed with a liner to center himself dropping for a hit.

Thankfully, Martinez was standing on second as Mahtook’s base hit would have produced the second run against Kopech if it was anyone else. With the bases loaded, pitching coach Don Cooper came out for a second mound visit. Facing Rodriquez for the third time, Kopech threw three straight balls to put himself in a heated situation. After a get me over fastball to avoid walking in a run, Rodriquez squared up the 3-1 offering by grounding hard to Tim Anderson who started the 6-4-3 double play ending the threat.

At 86 pitches, and his fastball velocity starting to dip to 93 mph, that was enough for Kopech who impressed in his encore by going six innings allowing seven hits, one earned run, striking out four with no walks. His pitch breakdown was 55 fastballs, 25 sliders, and six changeups. 

While the spotlight was on Kopech, the offense provided some fireworks in the third inning. Back-to-back singles by Nicky Delmonico and Adam Engle got the rally started, but it almost ended as Yolmer Sanchez got sawed off by Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann. A quick catch and throw to second doubled off Delmonico, but Engel was able to get back to first avoiding the triple play. Engle advanced to third on Tim Anderson’s 22nd double of 2018 putting ducks on the pound for Avisail Garcia.

A sharp single from Avi to center plated both Engel and Anderson to give the Sox a 2-0 lead, and then Avi got to trot the bases with Daniel Palka who smashed his 19th home run of 2018 with an exit velocity of 111 mph.

Source: Baseball Savant

In the sixth inning, Omar Narvaez doubled, and Yoan Moncada tripled with two outs to put the Sox ahead 5-0. Engel would record a multi-hit game leading off the seventh with a double and scoring on Anderson’s sacrifice fly. The Sox final run of the afternoon was walked in as Narvaez gets credit with the RBI.

Hector Santiago couldn’t pitch a clean ninth inning despite a six-run lead, but Jace Fry got out of the bases loaded jam getting Martinez to pop up in the infield and strikeout Jose Iglesias.

Game Notes

  • After starting 1-9, the White Sox have won five of the last 6 against the Tigers and are now just 1.5 games behind the Tigers for third place.

Record: 51-79 | Box Score

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Josh Nelson

Josh Nelson is the host and producer of the Sox Machine Podcast. For show suggestions, guest appearances, and sponsorship opportunities, you can reach him via email at josh@soxmachine.com.

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jorgefabregas

Winning is fung.

ParisSox

Like so much better than losing.  

AirTrafficAJ

Man, when Kopech gets a good feel for that changeup and starts throwing it more…wow…