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Kopech delivers in 7-6 win over A’s

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Burger injury casts pall on an otherwise encouraging team win

MLB: Spring Training-Texas Rangers at Chicago White Sox
As Promised: Kopech, pictured in a Camelback Ranch start last year, was dominant in his first spring start of 2018.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

If you are somehow able to get past the devastating injury to spring training rookie Jake Burger, Monday’s 7-6 win over Oakland A’s—the third straight for the Chicago White Sox—was pretty encouraging.

First off, Michael Kopech delivered on all of the “Kopech Day” hype (no pressure, young fella), spinning two innings and facing just seven batters. Kopech allowed two hits, but punched out three, including an, er, intimidating first faceoff:

Kopech spoke after the game and mentioned somewhat in passing that it’s great to have triple-digit velocity going early, but he was focused more on the several changeups the threw to keep A’s hitters off-guard.

[Aside: From the Grapefruit League, hours before Kopech’s start today, Jose Altuve had a full mouth-drop at the effectiveness of fellow flamethrower Noah Syndergaard’s 92 mph changeup: “If he throws me that change-up 100 times, he’s going to strike me out 100 times.”]

None was as impressive as Kopech, but the White Sox saw solid pitching efforts from Luis Avilán, Dylan Covey and Aaron Bummer. Tyler Danish bounced back from a rough start on Friday vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers to pick up a one-out save.

On the flip side, the webcast announcing team mistakenly attributed Brian Clark’s wishy-washy outing (one run and three Ks in one inning) to Jace Fry. Fry, in fact, was shelled as he tried to finish the game with a 7-2 lead, surrendering three hits, four runs and a walk in two-thirds of an inning before being bailed out by Danish.

On offense, the White Sox remained taut, with 12 hits, six for extra bases.

Tyler Saladino continued his spring MVP drive with two more hits, raising his average to .571. Saladino, Matt Davidson and Jake Elmore each have played in three spring games while holding at least a .500 average.

The most fun tallies came in the third, when Davidson doubled deep to left, driving in Saladino, and in the fourth, when shortstop Jose Rondón tripled in two, then came home on a Charlie Tilson suicide squeeze.

On Tuesday, the White Sox head to Sloan Park in Mesa to take on the Chicago Cubs. Carson Fulmer gets the start for the Sox.