Michael Kopech. Bailey Ober. Pitcher’s duel. Until . . .
Andrew Vaughn, on the first pitch delivered to the plate in the fifth inning, homered to dead center field. The baseball traveled off of the bat 424 feet, at 103.4 mph.
Play Andrew Vaughn Every Day.
Kopech was absolutely outstanding. In five innings, he sprinkled three hits on top of his seven-strikeout cupcake. He only walked one batter. Michael’s fastball was simply doing work. Of his 83 pitches, 65 of them were 4-seamers (78%). Griffin Jax’s goal in the sixth was to throw more of the same pitch — his slider at 83%. That tangent aside, Kopech’s fastball had life.
He threw his slider and curveball at an equal split — nine apiece. None of those nine pitches resulted in whiffs, but complementing to the fastball will continue to be worked on.
For the Minnesota Twins, Ober (as he typically is against the Chicago White Sox) was fantastic. In his five innings of work, he gave up five hits, but only one of those hits resulted in a run. He struck out six, with zero walks.
Of his José Abreu amount of pitches, he threw his fastball Adam Engel’s first jersey number amount of times (a little late-night #SoxMath, if you will). The one fastball he’d like to take back is over center field’s wall and in the grass.
With shutdown pitching comes shutdown defense. Reese McGuire continues to provide that. Jorge Polanco reached first on a walk in the first inning. With Polanco trying to get fancy and steal a bag early in the game, McGuire gunned him down to end the inning.
And, yes, there was some questionable defense for the South Siders, but to be fair (she says, sarcastically), Leury García’s errant throw was scored a fielder’s choice rather than an error, even when it should have completed a double play. But, once again, McGuire hustled to back up the throw, which would have ended up in the dugout and advanced the baserunner.
By reading this, you thought the White Sox were going to win, right?
I did, too. Until the bottom of the eighth came, with, you guessed it, more bad defense.
With runners on the corners and two outs, Carlos Correa smoked a ball to Tim Anderson, who couldn’t get it to second, so he went to first base with an errant throw. Run scores, tie game.
That MIGHT have been OK, but Abreu recovered the ball and went home wild on a throw that did not have to be made — so it of course was nowhere near the plate, allowing the go-ahead run to score, and a 2-1 game.
This kind of defense is unacceptable. I’d excuse the offense today, given the pitcher’s duel, but it’s been nonexistent for more than a week.
Luckily, the team that never quits did come to play in the ninth inning. Eloy Jiménez led off with a double. Adam Engel moved pinch runner Adam Haseley to third on a ground out to the right side and AJ Pollock drew a walk to put runners on the corners with one out.
Then Vaughn, the man responsible for his team’s lone run, drew a walk to load the bases. Unfortunately, McGuire, after battling in his at-bat, popped out for out No. 2.
Jake Burger worked a full count, but he struck out looking at a perfect pitcher’s pitch.
Sox lose, 2-1.
A perfect summary of the offense:
4/22: 6 hits, 1 run— Julie Brady (@DestroyBaseball) April 23, 2022
4/21: 8 hits, 3 runs
4/20: 3 hits, 1 run
4/17: 3 hits, 3 runs
4/16: 7 hits, 3 runs
4/15: 6 hits, 3 runs
4/14: 4 hits, 1 run
4/13: 10 hits! 6 runs!
4/12: 6 hits, 3 runs
4/10: 13 hits! 10 runs!!
4/9: 10 hits! 5 runs!
4/8: 8 hits, 4 runs
As for Tony La Russa, things are simply miserable. He has not allowed his team any rhythm, refuses to pinch-hit when the situation begs it, and is simply continuing where he left off in the 2021 season. Yes, it’s only April, and there is time, but a championship-caliber team should not be playing this poorly to start the season.
Tomorrow, the South Siders look to tie the weekend series. Vince Velásquez gets the 3:05 p.m. CT start. Here’s to an eventual Sox breakthrough!