White Sox 8, Rangers 4: Michael Kopech looks like a starter

With Lucas Giolito waiting for a sliced finger to heal, Michael Kopech stepped in for another short-notice start. Once again, he looked more than ready for it.

Kopech went five innings this time, racking up 10 strikeouts over his first four innings, then completing a contact-laden fifth to qualify for the win. He recorded said win because the White Sox offense piled it on against Kohei Arihara for the second time in as many chances this year. Add it all up, and the White Sox capped off their first sweep of the season, taking full advantage of a very winnable homestand.

Arihara’s first opportunity against the White Sox came during spring training back on March 2, which you may remember as the game where the Rangers rolled both of his innings, including one where José Abreu was denied an opportunity to hit with the bases loaded.

Arihara had to record all three outs this time, and he had a helluva time doing so. Abreu hit a two-run shot off him during a first inning where Arihara walked four, but had the fortune of issuing one before Adam Eaton lined into a double play on an attempted hit-and-run to give him two outs with nobody on.

He let the Sox swing freely in the second, and to wonderful results. Nick Madrigal singled, Tim Anderson doubled, and Eaton tripled through a wide open gap right of center for two more runs, and Abreu cashed in a third with a sac fly for all the runs they ended up needing.

Kopech, conversely, was outstanding. Outside of a hanging slider that David Dahl deposited into the Rangers bullpen for a second-inning solo shot, Kopech looked like too much to handle. His fastball did most of the damage, generating 11 whiffs, 14 called strikes and 13 foul balls out of 55 total. The slider was occasionally effective, but he didn’t even need that second pitch.

The only question was whether Kopech would be able to complete the first half of the game, because the ineffective swings created a slightly inefficient pitch count of 64 through three innings. Fortunately he had plenty of time to recover between each thanks to the White Sox grinding Arihara’s pace to a crawl, and he posted an eight-pitch fourth inning — with two three-pitch strikeouts — to make a fifth feasible.

The White Sox offense had one more outburst after Arihara left the game, tagging Brett de Geus for three runs in the third on a two-run triple by Madrigal and an unusual squeeze bunt by Eaton. Madrigal first held as de Geus fielded the ball, but broke for home when de Geus turned toward first and scored standing up.

Those insurance runs were welcome because Jonathan Stiever made a mess of the sixth. He was theoretically stretched out enough at Schaumburg to throw 100 pitches, but he ended up only throwing 15 before La Russa came out to pull him, because the Rangers torched him for four singles with their first four batters. Garrett Crochet came out and handled the long-relief duties instead, allowing two of the inherited runners to score on a pair of soft bouncers, including one that Crochet took way too much time in throwing to first.

That miscue notwithstanding, Crochet settled in to throw three scoreless innings, even while working with a blister of some sort on his pitching hand. José Ruiz handled the ninth.

Bullet points:

*Guaranteed Rate Field hosted two more triples today than it did all of last season.

*Zack Collins went 3-for-3 with a walk. All of the hits were infield singles, or at least stopped by infielders.

*Anderson had a rough defensive inning where he yielded an infield single on a ball he backed up on, then fired wildly in an attempt to turn two. Neither counted as an error.

*Stiever was optioned to Schaumburg after the game with an ERA of infinity. The White Sox will make a corresponding move on Tuesday.

Record: 12-9 | Box score | Statcast

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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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Red_Hair_White_Sox

First game back on the park this year! What a fun game. The constant base runners through 3 was fun but really dragged out the game time.

Ended up leaving after the 4th because it was so cold, but I live close enough that, even with a pitstop for 35th Red Hots, I caught the 7th – 9th on the tv.

Back in my day we had to walk to the stadium uphill both ways in freezing snow to catch a ballgame. None of this “postponed game” and “runners on 2nd in the 10th inning” nonsense! We considered it lucky if we left the stadium after midnight!

burning-phoneix

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Joliet Orange Sox

Zack Collins did have 3 infield hits but it should be noted he hit the first one with an exit velocity of 101.7 mph and it had an xBA of 0.430 and he hit the last one with an exit velocity of 101.1 mph and it had an xBA of 0.570. Along with a walk, it was a good day at the plate for a hitter who has been struggling.

(The middle infield hit was just lucky, EV = 65.9 mph, xBA = 0.050.)

HallofFrank

+21 run differential for the Sox is best in AL, 2nd best in MLB behind only the Dodgers. And that during a difficult stretch with more injuries than normal.

texag10

I envy everyone who didn’t have to live through the Rangers broadcast crew. Homerism is one thing but they are damn idiots. They spent most of the game yesterday talking about the benefits of rosewater, when they weren’t appalled when a ball 2 inches off the plate wasn’t called a strike for their pitchers that is.

FlyingSpaghettiMonster

It really is amazing how many truly awful TV broadcasting teams there are. I think the Brewers are really good and Cleveland and Washington are fine, but most of the league is metal-gears-grinding levels of annoying.

texag10

They also spent a good deal of time complaining about how the Rangers never win challenges (I think they are 2 for 8 now) as if the number of challenges is more important than what you are challenging.

MrStealYoBase

It would be nice if Stiever showed something that would give you confidence in him as a spot starter. As it is, 2/3 of his career outings have been completely unmitigated disasters. If you are going to miss with a straight 92-93, you can’t miss belt-high every time and expect major league hitters to let you get away with it.