3 hits, 19 strikeouts in 15 straight scoreless innings – The Denver Post
Michael Kopech had quite a recall.
In his first start since winning a perfect game in the sixth inning, the Chicago White Sox right-hander struck out the first 12 batters he faced Wednesday against the Cleveland Guardians.
Josh Naylor singled to left center to top the fifth for the Guardians’ first hit. Kopech allowed two hits and a walk and struck out nine in seven innings, propelling the Sox to a 6-0 victory in front of 17,767 at Progressive Field.
“I’m back to trusting my stuff,” Kopech said. “The first starts of the season I was a bit searching, trying to feel what it felt like to throw my stuff in again with confidence. Now I feel like everything is working up front. I have a good life on my business. The results are there.”
Kopech and relievers Reynaldo López and Jimmy Lambert combined for four hits.
“He was in full control of himself,” Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. “He was focused, he controlled the strike zone.
“He is exploiting his potential. It has nothing to do with stuff. It has everything to do with focus, attention to detail, monstrous presence.
The Sox built a cushion for Kopech early, scoring five runs in the fourth to take two of three in the series.
Despite being nine games under .500 (21-30), the Sox are only 5½ games behind the Minnesota Twins, who won first place in American League Central. The Sox have won seven of nine games, with the tee shot playing a major role.
“I have fun calling pitches,” catcher Seby Zavala said. “With all of our starters, our bullpen, all of our staff right now doing what they have to do. When they put the ball where they want and we call it, it makes it more fun and easier for us.
Kopech and Kendall Graveman combined for a hit in Friday’s 2-0 win over the Kansas City Royals at the guaranteed rate field. The only hit was a broken-bat single by Michael Massey one out in the sixth. Kopech struck out 10 and did not allow a walk in that brilliant eight inning outing.
He continued that command Wednesday, striking out eight of the first 12 batters.
“Last, Seby talked to me about a game plan with how we were going to use my stuff ahead of time. We stuck to that the whole game,” Kopech said. here with a similar game plan and how we were going to attack each batter. More catching the ball and throwing the ball, knowing what we were going to do rather than sitting there and looking and watching all the time.
“That’s how things go when they click.”
Naylor broke his bat on a 2-1 pitch and singled for Cleveland’s first hit.
A bug in his left eye momentarily slowed Kopech in the sixth, but he recovered to take out pinched hitter David Fry.
“I still don’t know where that pitch was that I threw,” Kopech said. “It was a strike, so that’s good. Seby came out and actually blew me in the eye and made the bug disappear. Good drum mate right there.
While even the bug couldn’t affect Kopech’s control, the Sox offense took advantage of the walks in the third and fourth. Clint Frazier, starting from center field with Luis Robert Jr. rested after leaving Tuesday’s game with a strain in his right hip and quads, started the third with a walk and scored on a Tim Anderson single.
Yoán Moncada walked to trigger the fourth by five points. Romy Gonzalez hit a two-run brace and Jake Burger and Zavala hit sacrificial flies.
The Sox found a way to produce while finishing with four hits.
“Walks are really important,” Grifol said. “Not only do they make the pitch count, but they put pressure on the pitcher and the defense. And obviously situational blows. We have the ability to move runners via long ball, ground ball, sacrifice ball, up and down this formation.
“Guys can hit the baseball over the wall, so I don’t want guys to give up just to hit a ground ball at second baseman. I want guys to drive the ball and get guys somewhere deep in the outfield. They were focused on that today.
And Kopech was focused throughout.
“I’m proud of him,” Grifol said. “I’m proud of how he stayed in control, how focused he was even when he gave up the hit. He attacked the strike zone, induced a few ground balls (in the fifth), one of which was a double play. Just a great performance.
Update from Luis Robert
Robert only missed his second game this season. When asked on Wednesday if he expected to be back in a few days, he replied: “Tomorrow. I’m doing well.”
Robert said the injury happened after José Ramírez’s hat-trick on Tuesday’s eighth.
“That’s when I slipped,” he said through an interpreter. “It wasn’t pain or anything. It was more of a cramp. »
The Sox begin a four-game series Thursday in Detroit.