Michael Kopech is still batting 1.000 at Sox Park.
The problem is, Kopech is not a hitter, and his 1.000 percentage represents three rain delays in three career starts in Chicago. And as much as you might figure that the flamethrower’s flameout in the fourth inning was related to returning from an extended rain delay, that wasn’t the case tonight.
For the first time in four starts, Kopech was neither sharp nor overpowering, and the Detroit Tigers made him pay, ringing the ringer up for seven earned en route to a 10-2 rout that snatched third place back from the upstart South Siders.
Jeimer Candelario crushed a towering, 433-foot shot down the right-field line to open the game for Detroit, positively murdering the ball on a 2-2 count. It was the first of many indications Kopech was not KKKKKKKKKopech!!!!!!!!!!!! tonight, because Candelario turned on an inside fastball that should have spun him like a corkscrew (due to movement, pop, or both), but the pitch came in at 93 mph, and for a Tigers team that’s already seen Kopech and had dug in for triple-digit heat, that’s batting practice.
And, largely, Kopech threw BP tonight. Sure, he unleashed some fastballs with tantalizing movement (11 swinging strikes) and could still dig for a little bit of heat despite not being on his game (topping out at 96.1 mph):
Michael Kopech, Wicked tailing 93mph Fastball. pic.twitter.com/b0PZe0hP6E— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 6, 2018
and dug a few off-speed pitches out of his trick bag to earn some oohs and ahhs:
Michael Kopech, Filthy 90mph Changeup. pic.twitter.com/im4omuntHj— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 6, 2018
but this was a forgettable effort, overall.
The first three innings, Candelario’s clout aside, were about what you’d expect from Kopech. The first ended after one more hit, a fairly crisp single on a fastball that didn’t fool Nicholas Castellanos, but also ended on two Ks. In the second, it was a walk and a K, no hits, but a screaming lineout from JaCoby Jones, off another inside fastball masquerading as 93 mph straight meat, reminded that Kopech wasn’t fooling many Tigers tonight.
The third — Kopech’s return to the mound after a 28-minute rain delay and the White Sox finishing their bottom of the second — went smoothly, with a hit and two walks.
But the Bengals blew the barn doors off in the fourth, with five straight hits to start the fourth. And calling them hits is a disservice, because Mikie Mahtook blasted a 445-foot home run that somehow made Candelario’s look like a Texas Leaguer. Again, it was a 93 mph heater on the inside of the plate that came in on a tee.
After successfully staying away from James McCann to dig him an 0-2 hole with three pitches, Kopech upticked to 94 mph but caught too much plate to avoid the single. Two pitches later, Ronny Rodriguez turned on a slider with no speed or bite and sent it screaming out for a homer to left, 10 feet off the ground. Two pitches after that, Jones slapped a home run to right-center on 96 mph heat that was up and out, and credit due, a tidy piece of hitting.
Nine pitches, three homers and a single.
And Detroit wasn’t yet done with Kopech.
Dawel Lugo and Jim Aducci doubles were sandwiched around a Candelario K, and Kopech’s night was done.
His final line read 3 1⁄3 innings, nine hits, seven earned, a walk, six Ks, four homers, 82 pitches (55 strikes) and a game score of: 1. Just lace ‘em up in six days and scare hell outta the Kansas City Royals, M.K.
Dylan Covey came on to put out Kopech’s fire and got one more frame in before a second rain delay, this time lasting 33 minutes, ended his night.
The relief corps was solid again, spinning 5 2⁄3 innings with seven hits, three earned, three walks and six Ks. Subtract Caleb Frare from the mix, and Covey, José Ruiz, Juan Minaya and Thyago Vieira combined for 5 1/3, four hits, no runs, two walks and six Ks.
Detroit’s Jordan Zimmerman, who played piñata over four starts this season vs. Chicago (0-2, 8.85 ERA) despite being pretty daggone decent against everyone else (6-4, 3.13 ERA), pictured White Sox batters naked, or wearing onesies, or whatever, because he was relatively untouchable on Wednesday: five innings, two hits, walk, three Ks, 67 game score.
The White Sox cracked through for two in the seventh, thanks more to a flubbed double play than offensive capability. Welington Castillo slapped Chicago’s third hit of the night to lead off, and one out later Rodriguez got a Matt Davidson double-play grounder caught in his glove, then threw wide to second base, allowing Castillo to come all the way around to score. With two down, José Rondón cracked his bat but lofted a single to center that scored Matty D.
After something like 20 games in 20 days, the White Sox catch a breather tomorrow, before welcoming Shohei Ohtani and his one-UCL home-run prowess to Sox Park for a weekend set.