The White Sox (38-41) just did not have it tonight, and they lost — convincingly — to the AL Central-leading Twins (47-37).
Despite the scoreless opening frame, the top of the first was ominous for starting pitcher Michael Kopech and the White Sox. The Twins made Kopech work hard early on, as the talented right-handed pitcher issued three walks in the first inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, though, Kopech struck out Alex Kirilloff to end the threat. By that point, however, Kopech had thrown 28 pitches.
With the game still scoreless in the top of the third, Max Kepler got the Twins on the board with his ninth home run this season. Matters got worse in the fourth, when Kirilloff led off with a single. That brought up José Miranda, who wasted no time launching a home run to triple Minnesota’s lead. Suddenly, with a 3-0 deficit, the White Sox were in trouble, especially given their struggles during their first time through the order against ... Josh Winder.
In the first three innings, the White Sox only put one runner in scoring position, when AJ Pollock and Reese McGuire singled. That brought up Tim Anderson with runners on first and second and only one out, but Anderson grounded into a 5-4-3 double play.
The White Sox finally got on the board in the bottom of the fourth. Luis Robert started the rally by legging out an infield single. With two outs, Gavin Sheets walked to extend the inning for Yoán Moncada, who sliced a liner in the gap for a double. That brought home Robert to trim the deficit to two. However, with the potential tying run on second, Pollock flew out to end the inning.
Although the White Sox had finally broken through with a timely hit, momentum did not remain on their side for long. Kopech retired the first batter he faced in the top of the fifth, but the next four pitches went about as poorly as they could have gone. Kepler singled on the first pitch he saw, Jorge Polanco homered on the first pitch he saw, and Kirilloff took ball No. 1 before homering to make it 6-1. Two batters later, Gary Sánchez walked, and Kopech’s outing was over. His final line was as follows: 4 2⁄3 innings, six runs (all earned), eight hits, four walks, five strikeouts, 87 pitches.
The White Sox showed a sign of life in the bottom half, when Josh Harrison led off with a ground-rule double. McGuire followed with a single to put runners on the corners with no outs. Then, Anderson grounded into a force out that drove in a run, but given their commanding lead, the Twins happily exchanged a run for an out. The rally died shortly after that, as José Abreu grounded out with runners on first and second with two outs.
Reynaldo López, who entered the game in relief of Kopech, was one of the few silver linings of this game. López retired all four batters he faced, and two of them were Luis Arráez and Byron Buxton.
However, Minnesota went right back to work after Vince Velasquez relieved López. With one out in the seventh, Kirilloff continued his terrific performance by launching his second home run of the night. That extended the Twins lead to six, and the score remained 8-2 the rest of the way.
In garbage time, Harrison collected his second hit of the day. Normally, this would not be noteworthy, but it was also the 1,000th MLB hit for the veteran. Congratulations to Harrison on reaching this milestone. Another positive note is that McGuire finished with three hits, with his single that immediately succeeded Harrison’s 1,000th career hit. Unfortunately, in true White Sox fashion, they failed to score after putting runners on first and second with no outs. One more silver lining: After collecting his 1,000th hit, Harrison pitched a scoreless ninth inning, and yes, you read that correctly.
Despite the White Sox finishing 10-for-34 (.294 batting average) in this game, they only put two runs on the board. The South Siders are still in desperate need of power, and tonight was no exception. Outside of Moncada’s RBI double and Harrison’s ground-rule double, the White Sox did not have any extra-base hits. Also, the White Sox only drew two walks (one by Robert, the other by Gavin Sheets) in this game. For fans wondering why batting average has become less frequently used as a starting point to evaluate hitting production, look no further than this game.
The White Sox try to avoid being swept tomorrow against the Twins. That game is scheduled to begin at 1:10 p.m. Central, and the probable starting pitchers are Lance Lynn and Joe Ryan. As usual, NBC Sports Chicago will televise it, and WMVP 1000 AM will have the radio coverage. For out-of-market fans, MLB Network will also televise the game. One can only hope it goes better than this game did.