The fastest way back to the wild and crazy World Series days is to promote a can’t-miss phenom, it seems.
The hype over Michael Kopech’s first start for the Chicago White Sox reached tumult level, as reporters who remembered where Sox Park stood giddily tweeted out “Kopech stretching” pics
Kopech stretching drawing a crowd pic.twitter.com/YmgquUfMmH— Paul Sullivan (@PWSullivan) August 21, 2018
and the 22-year-old received standing ovations for merely finishing his warm-up tosses.
But those pregame highlights proved mere appetizers for the short main course to come.
Kopech scuffled through traffic in both the first and second innings, before the rain that kissed his second confrontation with Joe Mauer turned angry during the inning break, prompting a 52-minute delay.
Kopech gave up three hits over two innings, with a HBP and four strikeouts. He threw 52 pitches/35 strikes, consisting of 41 fastballs, eight sliders and three changeups.
His first inning started off by putting both Mauer and Eddie Rosario on their heels, but ultimately giving up singles to both. Mauer’s came on sharp-grounder contact up the middle off of a fastball, Rosario’s leaning over the plate and dinking a slider safely to right.
With runners on the corners, Kopech got Jorge Polanco on a popup to left, whiffed Miguel Sanó on a check swing, and got Max Kepler to pop out to center field.
Kopech’s second inning started cleaner, but ended in more labored fashion. He got Logan Forsythe and Jake Cave on strikes, and after working Robbie Grossman to 2-2, hit the DH with a glancing hip shot. Big Bobby Wilson followed with a broken-bat duck snort to left, placing runners on first and second. After a seven-pitch battle with Mauer, Kopech punched the veteran out with a 97.5 mph fastball at the top of the zone — a pitch the garrulous Mauer took exception to.
Kopech got six swinging strikes in the game, and five of the six balls put in play were on fastballs. He averaged 96.8 mpg on his four-seam fastball, per Statcast, hitting a high of 98.5 mph.