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Hendriks bobbles heads with a nail-biting White Sox win

Kopech brings his best, with a stellar bullpen behind him.

Tampa Bay Rays v Chicago White Sox
Michael Kopech threw his first home start of the season, and his first-ever start against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Happy Kopech Day, White Sox fans! We’ve all been waiting for this Michael Kopech, but he shares today’s victory with a killer bullpen. With six pitchers on the injured list, including key cogs Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn, Garrett Crochet, and Joe Kelly, the White Sox needed every healthy pitcher to bring their A-games against Corey Kluber, and today, they brought it. Giving up just two runs, with one unearned, the White Sox pitchers dominated, to secure a third series win in a row.

The South Siders were already leading their division, and boasted the best record in the American League before today, but in improving to 6-2, they now have the best record in the majors. Every moment felt important today. Maybe this tough homestand is driving up the sense of urgency, or maybe White Sox fans can sense how special this team is.

Close games like these are fun to watch, especially with Kopech on the mound in his first start ever against Tampa Bay. In what was also his first home start of the season, Kopech allowed only one hit and one unearned run through five innings, burning the Rays with five strikeouts on 75 pitches.

After the clown show of the first inning, with a White Sox error resulting in an unearned run for the Rays, this game had the energy of end-of-season ball. The crowd was on their feet with every tense full count, as Kluber brought his finest through the first nine White Sox batters, with a no-hitter through the third. José Abreu answered Tim Anderson’s single with a two-run blast in the fourth, however, pushing the White Sox to a 2-1 lead. Abreu hadn’t seen Kluber since 2019, and yet today he recorded his sixth home run against him, shaming Kluber back into the dugout of dishonor.

Reynaldo López gave up another run to the Rays to tie the game in the sixth, but pitched himself out of a jam, which led the way for Luis Robert’s advantageous base running to secure the lead again. Robert reached first on a Rays bobble, stole second, and took third on a sacrifice fly by Abreu. Yasmani Grandal came through to bring Robert home, scoring what became the winning run of the game.

José Ruiz and Bennett Sousa brought the fire from the bullpen to close the coffin lid on the Rays, but Liam Hendriks caused about a million people to clench their buttholes in suspense when he took his sweet time nailing that coffin shut. Luckily, we had the unsung hero of today’s win, catcher Reese McGuire, who was an absolute unit of a pitch framer and blocker. With McGuire’s masterful plate performance, our pitchers looked like aces until the ninth.

Ironically, Liam made heads bobble, as Chicago’s miniscule lead threatened with every Tampa base runner, until the bases were loaded with two outs. Had Hendriks blown this save, there would have been a few smashed Liam effigies left in the stadium, but he smoked Taylor Walls, saving the win with a strikeout.

As stressful as it is to watch close games like this, it shows the guts and growth of the White Sox bullpen. This has been a formidable homestand, and our South Siders have stood up to the challenge, playing with full force throughout. It shows in their performance, and if this is a season preview, we’re in for a wild ride.

We should see a day off for Liam Hendriks tomorrow, as the best-record White Sox go for the sweep against the Rays at 1:10 pm CST. Jacki Krestel takes our game coverage, with Ashley Sanders on the Six Pack and Delia Ritchie doing the Bird App.

Bring your brooms!