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White Sox 2, Rockies 1: Pitching staff, defense shut it down in Coors

The South Siders turned four double plays in the victory, and are finally better than .500

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Colorado Rockies
On a mission: Michael Kopech pitched 5 1⁄3 shutout innings to help the White Sox climb above .500.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The White Sox (49-48) held on to defeat the Rockies (44-54) despite some ninth-inning drama. The four double plays that the White Sox turned proved to be crucial in this low-scoring ballgame.

The first time either team got a runner in scoring position was in the top of the second. After two quick outs, the White Sox woke up against Germán Márquez , as Yasmani Grandal singled on an 0-2 pitch, and AJ Pollock sliced a double to right-center to put runners on second and third. If the base runner on first was someone other than Grandal, the White Sox likely would have taken an early lead. However, it was wise to hold the veteran catcher at third. Leury García, the next batter, flew out to deep center to end the inning.

The bottom of the second was interesting for starter Michael Kopech and the White Sox. After a sharp ground out to open the inning, control eluded Kopech, who issued back-to-back walks. Then, an infield single loaded the bases for Brian Serven, who got ahead of Kopech with a 2-0 count. But, after two excellent fastballs, it was 2-2, and Kopech finally escaped by forcing an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.

In the top of the fourth, the White Sox finally broke the ice. With one out, Eloy Jiménez started the rally with a line drive to right for a single. Grandal followed with a ground ball up the middle that barely got through into center for a single. Jiménez and made a smart base-running play by noticing that the Rockies did not have anyone covering third. With runners on the corners with one out, Pollock hit a routine ground ball to shortstop that should have resulted in a 6-4-3 double play ... however, Garrett Sampson misplayed the ball, and everyone was safe, making it 1-0, White Sox, with runners on first and second. The situation improved when García singled to left field. The downside is that if the base runner on second at the beginning of the play was someone besides Grandal, the White Sox would have probably scored. But, for the moment, the score remained 1-0 after Adam Engel struck out and Tim Anderson grounded out to end the inning.

The Rockies threatened to score again in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, Charlie Blackmon hit a liner to right that appeared to be a single. However, Blackmon was hustling, and he knew that it was wise to test right fielder Andrew Vaughn. The decision paid off, as Blackmon stretched his hit into a double. Hampson followed with a single to put runners on the corners, but Kris Bryant grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, and the lead was preserved.

After allowing a single with one out in the sixth, Kopech was replaced by Jimmy Lambert. Kopech’s final line was as follows: 5 13 innings, no runs, six hits, three walks, four strikeouts, 91 pitches, 58 strikes. Lambert picked up right where Kopech left off, as he forced a double play ground ball on the second pitch he threw.

The White Sox finally picked up some insurance in the top of the seventh, when Adam Engel led off with a single. Engel stole his 10th base of the season, and with one out, Yoán Moncada hit an RBI double that doubled the lead.

In the bottom half, Joe Kelly took over, and he allowed back-to-back Rockies to reach base with one out. With runners on first and second, the Rockies had set themselves up for a 3-6-3 double play, which was their fourth double-play grounder of the game.

Kendall Graveman pitched a scoreless eighth to boost the White Sox’s win probability even more, and they took a 2-0 lead into the ninth. Liam Hendriks and the White Sox ultimately held on despite Ryan McMahon’s solo home run. Anderson made a nice play on a soft grounder for out No. 27 to wrap up an excellent day for the White Sox infield defense. As a result, the White Sox are better than .500 for the first time since May 25.

The White Sox will wrap up this brief series in Denver on Wednesday, and that game is scheduled to begin at 2:10 p.m. Central. The probable pitchers are Lucas Giolito and Antonio Senzatela. As usual, NBC Sports Chicago will televise the game, and WMVP 1000 AM will have the radio coverage. Let’s get win No. 50.