Ah, well, five’s a good number, right? The White Sox winning streak came to an end tonight, finally falling to an Astros team that probably wasn’t going to get mopped for four games under any circumstance. At the very least, they almost certainly weren’t going to lose three consecutive games in which the White Sox failed to hit a home run. Gotta love the Menechino offense, right?
In spite of some tepid and untimely bats, there were some positives, so let’s get to the breakdown.
Michael Kopech didn’t have no-hit stuff tonight, but it was still good enough to notch his third quality start in his last four tries despite failing to strike out more than two hitters for the third time in 21 non injury-abbreviated starts. Kopech either didn’t have a feel for his secondary pitches tonight or he felt he didn’t need them, throwing fastballs and sliders for 82 of the 85 pitches it took to get through six innings with an even three runs, five hits, and two walks along with two punchouts.
His fastball was once again buzzing in the mid- to upper-nineties, and he did a relatively good job of locating sliders to the glove side on and off the plate. Astros hitters simply weren’t fooled, whiffing just seven times on 41 swings. His reluctance to use a slide-step and Yasmani Grandal’s clearly-diminished quickness behind the plate wound up being a difference maker, with the run scored in by José Altuve after stealing second and third base in the first inning ultimately being the winning margin.
Kopech’s 85-pitch outing looked like this:
He doesn’t get the attention, but Framber Valdez is one of the best starting pitchers in baseball, and he showed it tonight. As easy as it is to be mad at the White Sox offense when they get shut down by a mediocre righthander, this is one where you must simply tip your cap to the opposing pitcher.
Valdez not only worked at least six innings for the 20th consecutive game, he registered a quality start for the 20th consecutive game, the 11th pitcher in the live-ball era with such a streak. He scattered seven hits and three walks over seven innings and got dinged for just two runs, both in the bottom of the fourth, using double plays to work around trouble on multiple occasions. The Sox were unable to do any serious damage against the combination of his 94 mph, bowling-ball sinker and massive, five-foot curveball, pounding it into the ground with runners on base and letting Valdez get through his seven innings in just 100 pitches despite all of those baserunners.
On the whole, Valdez’s 100-pitch outing looked like this:
Yoán Moncada couldn’t shoulder the eighth-inning-comeback load for the third night in a row, striking out looking with runners on first and second, one out, and the LI at a game-high 5.30.
Astros reliever Ryne Stanek bore the biggest clutch burden of the day, accumulating a 3.53 pLI in a tense eighth inning of work through the heart of the Sox lineup.
Even before the eighth, the White Sox were unable to take advantage of some more measurably critical clutchness from Moncada, as his double to score Eloy Jiménez and move José Abreu to third with none out in the fourth inning provided a game-high .175 WPA in favor of the Sox.
Valdez’s .270 WPA was easily the biggest single contribution to from any single player tonight.
Hardest hit: José Abreu’s sixth inning single left the bat at 108.6 mph, highest of the game.
Weakest contact: Andrew Vaughn’s fifth-inning infield single was tapped at just 43.6 mph.
Luckiest hit: A similarly-tapped grounder for a hit from Yuli Gurriel carried a minuscule .040 xBA.
Toughest out: Romy González’s sharply-hit grounder to end the seventh inning had a .540 xBA.
Longest hit: The Yordan Alvarez sacrifice fly that opened the scoring sailed 384 feet, longest of the game.
Magic Number: 26
With six weeks yet to go in the season, Valdez will have a chance to challenge the menacing duo of Jacob deGrom and Bob Gibson in the history books by equaling or surpassing their all-time record of 26 consecutive quality starts.
Hard-hit is any ball off the bat at 95 mph or more
LI measures pressure per play
pLI measures total pressure faced in-game
Whiff a swing-and-miss
WPA win probability added measures contributions to the win
xBA expected batting average
Who was tonight’s MVP?
This poll is closed
Michael Kopech (6 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 2 SO)
José Abreu (2-for-4, BB, R, .200 WPA)
Yoán Moncada (1-for-4, 2B, RBI)
Joe Kelly (IP, 2 SO, Looked Not Cooked)
Who was tonight’s Cold Cat?
This poll is closed
Josh Harrison (0-for-4, GIDP)
AJ Pollock (0-for-4)
Yasmani Grandal (1-for-3, BB, Popped Up To The Catcher With A 3-1 Count And The Tying Run On Second, Seriously?)
The Menechino Offensive Master Plan Of Hitting Zero Home Runs In The Entire Series