Despite a downright brutal showing yesterday — and an equally alarming start to this one — the White Sox bounced back in fine fashion to take two of three from the Mariners and secure their third consecutive series win since an embarrassing home sweep to the Diamondbacks. Aided by poor Seattle defense, the Sox lineup dropped six unanswered runs on their hosts after trailing 4-0 through three innings, then rallied for three more after Seattle stuck an additional two runs on the team’s most recent bullpen additions, Jake Diekman and Joe Kelly. Eloy Jiménez carried the offense with three hits and three driven in, and Liam Hendriks shut the door for his 32nd save of the season. With Minnesota’s loss to the Yankees in the first leg of their doubleheader and Cleveland set to take on Kansas City shortly, the Sox are a half-game back of the former and 2.5 games back of the latter in the AL Central.
Michael Kopech’s well-anticipated return from injury didn’t quite go the way he wanted to, giving up four runs and failing to finish the fourth inning against a rolling Seattle offense. He began the game looking sharp, striking out four of the first six hitters with his fastball popping in his usual 94-96 mph range with a sharp slider that he was throwing for a strike.
In the third innings, however, his command went south. A walk and a pair of hits on pitches over the heart of the plate were followed by a mammoth Eugenio Suárez home run that put the visiting Sox in a 4-0 hole. A look at the locations of Seattle’s four hits and two walks against Kopech tells the story of a pitcher who suddenly had trouble knowing where the ball was going:
Though he recovered well to start the fourth inning, inducing two ground outs to open the frame, a Josh Harrison error shortened Kopech’s day when it was followed by a weak opposite-field double off the bat of J.P. Crawford to move runners into scoring position. Perhaps due to Kopech’s innings limit and his recent injury, Miguel Cairo chose to bring the hook after Kopech’s 74th pitch, allowing José Ruiz to finish out the inning. Kopechs’ 74 pitches looked like this:
Barely 18 hours after Logan Gilbert and the Mariners bullpen torched the Sox lineup for 14 strikeouts and a strikeout, Luis Castillo came out of the gates making them look like a warm-up act, striking out the first seven hitters — a Mariners record to open a game — with a fastball buzzing in the high-90s and a changeup/slider combination that the Sox lineup in a complete spin-cycle.
Though he only struck out one more hitter the rest of the way, he remained largely in control, working into the sixth inning with an Eloy Jiménez ding dong as the only mark on his line. A quality start was not to be, however, as everything unraveled in the sixth inning: the third time through the order, the Sox were better prepared for Castillo’s high-powered inside-out attack, driving him from the game with a series of hits (two for extra bases) that were largely well-earned.
On the whole, Castillo’s 99-pitch outing looked like this:
Though there was quite a bit of tension at T-Mobile Park, the peak Leverage Index (LI) checked in at 4.64 in the top of the fourth inning, when Ty France came to the plate with runners on second and third and a two-run deficit. He grounded out.
Entering the game with two on, one out, and a two-run lead, Joe Kelly’s 3.91 pLI was the highest of all performers today.
Suárez’s second longball of the day took this category handily, as it tied the game in the seventh and added a full 25% (.250 WPA) to Seattle’s win probability.
Unsurprisingly, Eloy Jiménez’s three-hit day netted him .350 WPA, easily the highest of the game.
Hardest hit: Suárez’s first home run left the yard at 111.4 mph, tops on the day.
Weakest contact: Elvis Andrus’s reign lasts another day with his single on a laughably slow 26 mph tapper down the line.
Luckiest hit: The aforementioned bloop J.P. Crawford double that drove Kopech from the game had a minuscule .070 expected batting average.
Toughest out: Most hitters got what they deserved today, as Ty France’s first-inning fly out to the right field wall had a .420 expected batting average, the highest on an out today.
Longest hit: Eugenio Suárez takes the crown for the second straight day, edging out Eloy Jiménez by two feet with his 425-foot blast.
Magic Number: 4
This was — I kid you not — the fourth time in 2022 that the Sox have won a game despite allowing at least six runs. There’s still time!
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 the White Sox MVP this afternoon?
This poll is closed
Eloy Jiménez (3-for-4, HR, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI)
José Abreu (1-for-4, 2 R, 2 RBI)
Seattle’s Defense (3 Errors; 4 Unearned Runs)
Who was this afternoon’s Cold Cat?
This poll is closed
Rick Hahn’s 2022 Bullpen Acquisitions (1 1⁄3 IP, ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 2 SO)
Michael Kopech (3 2⁄3 IP, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO)
Luis Robert Still Isn’t On The IL, Huh?