The Chicago White Sox gave the people a thrill today, capping off the homestand with a gutsy, come-from-behind, 4-2 win over the Detroit Tigers.
Today's victory was a true team effort with a little determination, a little clutch situational hitting, and a little luck. The South Siders will hope to take the good mojo with them as they head into a season-defining road trip where they will face the Cleveland Guardians and Minnesota Twins. Let’s break down today’s action.
The Curious Case of Michael Kopech
Things didn’t start well for Michael Kopech, who didn’t throw a pitch in the zone until he laid up a 91-mph-four seamer to Javier Báez, who predictably deposited it into the bullpen for a two-run blast.
With shaky command and his velocity down in the lower 90s, it remains to be seen what exactly Kopech’s deal is, but there are plenty of theories to go around. Some say it’s a dead arm. Some say it’s a nagging injury. Tony La Russa has said it’s an issue with mechanics that he and Ethan Katz are trying to straighten out. It could be a combination of all those things. There’s only one thing about Kopech’s performance today that we know for sure – no matter what other issues might be holding him back from complete dominance, his work kept his team in an excellent position to win. That’s the goal, and you absolutely love to see it. Kopech threw 82 pitches in 5 ⅓ innings today, allowing just two runs on four hits.
Listen, folks, let’s take a moment to talk about and appreciate Gavin Sheets. Since being recalled from Charlotte in late June, Sheets has been playing like he wants to stay with the big-league club. Maybe it’s the power of the late-nineties facial hair he’s got going on, but in the last 15 days, he has slashed an impressive .341/.568/.976. It’s evident that Sheets is seeing the ball well, and has mercifully stopped trying to pull every pitch he makes contact with.
Sheets continued to bless us with his left-handed power this afternoon. With the Sox down a run in the sixth inning, Sheets worked his way from an 0-2 count to an absolute no-doubter to tie the game.
Mother Nature with the assist
Now, look, I know we’d all rather be good than lucky, but sometimes, a little luck can go a long way. The defensive play of Tigers left fielder Robbie Grossman has been the definition of reliable — he hadn’t made an error since 2018, with a major league record errorless streak.
Until today, that is.
With a bit of assistance from The Windy City, Grossman dropped a fly ball off the bat of Luis Robert, which should have been the last out of the eighth inning.
Scoring runs with two outs? Is that allowed?
As it turned out, that error led to the offensive floodgates being opened for the White Sox, who took the lead and never gave it back. After the inning-extending error, AJ Pollock came off the bench to plate the go-ahead run with a pinch-hit single up the middle.
Eloy Jiménez followed Pollock with a single of his own down the first base line, scoring the ever-important insurance run.
The most encouraging part of today’s offensive performance was that all of the South Siders’ runs came with two outs. For a team that has struggled all season to capitalize on similar situations, it was therapeutic to see the White Sox come through in the clutch.
Liam Hendriks put a bow on the game, pitching a clean ninth to earn his 17th save of the season.
It was a good win against a bad team, but I’ll take what I can get when I can get it. The following week will be a gauntlet for the White Sox, so here’s hoping they’ll be able to build upon the good things we saw today and get a few wins before the All-Star Break.
Get your rest, White Sox fans. Drink some water, touch some grass, and look after your mental health. It’s a sprint of eight games in seven days to the All-Star break, on the road and against the teams above us. One way or another, it’s going to be a trip.