The White Sox (34-47) fell to the Angels (44-37) once again in Anaheim, this time by a score of 4-2. Shohei Ohtani has had numerous phenomenal performances as a two-way superstar, but this game stood out.
Leading off the game, Andrew Benintendi put a nice swing on a fastball by Ohtani. At first, the fly ball appeared to have a chance of clearing the wall, but Mickey Moniak tracked it down on the warning track in center field. That long fly out was just about the biggest accomplishment the White Sox had against Ohtani.
Michael Kopech forced a ground out to Moniak, the first batter he faced. However, the second batter Kopech faced is kind of a big deal.
That moonshot of a home run made it a 1-0 game, and it left many baseball fans speechless. Ohtani tends to do that.
Although Kopech did not allow any runs in the first besides that homer, he needed 31 pitches to get through that inning. That did not set the stage for a long outing, as the Angels put a lot of tough plate appearances together against him. Kopech also needed 22 pitches to get through a frustrating second inning, when he issued three walks. Fortunately, Yasmani Grandal and Elvis Andrus teamed up to catch two of those runners stealing, so Kopech only needed to face four batters that inning.
Kopech proceeded to issue a leadoff walk to Ohtani to open the bottom of the third, already the struggling starter’s fifth walk of the game. However, Kopech recovered to get a soft grounder that Andrus made a nice play on, a strikeout, and a weak fly out to escape trouble.
In the fourth, Luis Rengifo lined a triple down the right field line with one out. After Kopech’s sixth walk, the Angels had runners on the corners. David Fletcher hit a grounder to second, and Andrus made another nice play to get a close out at first. However, Rengifo scored on the play to make it 2-0, and through four innings, Kopech was at 91 pitches.
In the fifth, Kopech appeared to strike out Ohtani on a 1-2 fastball that caught the strike zone, but it was called a ball. Then again, Kopech did get a missed call in his favor on the first pitch of that at-bat, so perhaps that was a makeup. Ohtani went on to single, and Kopech proceeded to issue his seventh walk, and his outing was over with two on and nobody out in the fifth. Reliever Touki Toussaint worked out of the jam to keep the deficit at two.
In the sixth, by some miracle, the White Sox offense finally appeared to have some momentum against Ohtani. With one out, Andrus drew a walk, which was the first walk Ohtani issued. Benintendi followed with a single to put runners on first and second. Up stepped Tim Anderson, who failed to break out of his slump, as he struck out for the third time of the game. So, it was up to Luis Robert Jr., who put up a good fight before striking out on a tough splitter to end the threat.
Eloy Jiménez led off the seventh with a sharp single up the middle that narrowly missed Ohtani’s head. Andrew Vaughn struck out, but Grandal walked, and that was it for Ohtani’s outstanding performance on the mound. Reliever Jacob Webb took over, and Jake Burger was the first hitter to face him. Burger hit a ground ball that Fletcher made a great stop on. From his knees, he threw to third and barely nailed Jiménez.
The White Sox still had runners on first and second with two outs, and Gavin Sheets stepped up to the plate. Sheets chased a high fastball and made solid contact, lining a single to right-center. Pinch-runner Clint Frazier scored, and the White Sox were on the board. Andrus grounded out to end the inning, but at least they scored a run — and Ohtani was no longer pitching.
Just because he was not on the mound any longer did not mean that Ohtani was not doing damage. Toussaint threw a 1-1 splitter that was located pretty well, but Ohtani did not care. He put what appeared to be a one-handed swing on the ball, and he drove it out to left-center. Just like that, Ohtani had his 28th home run this season, and the Angels were back up by a pair.
After Ohtani’s second homer, Brandon Drury walked, and pinch-runner Andrew Velazquez stole second. Mike Moustakas tacked one run onto the lead with an RBI single, and it was 4-1.
With star closer Carlos Estévez on the mound, Jiménez sliced a double to open the ninth, as he finished 3-for-4 with two doubles. Vaughn drove him in with a single to make it 4-2, and the situation continued to get interesting when Zach Remillard added a single.
On a 1-2 pitch, Burger hit a grounder, and Fletcher got to the ball but could not field it cleanly. By the time Fletcher got the ball out of his glove, it was too late, and the bases were loaded with no outs. The official scorer rewarded Burger with a single, which was likely the correct call.
Seby Zavala, who entered the game in the seventh, struck out on a 98 mph fastball on a 1-2 count. That set the stage for Andrus, who hit a grounder to short for a game-ending 6-4-3 double play, and the South Siders’ rally fell short (we have said that quite a bit).
Who was the White Sox MVP?
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Eloy Jiménez: 3-for-4, 2 2B, +.173 WPA
Zach Remillard: 1-for-1, +.122 WPA
Yasmani Grandal: 1-for-2, BB, +.014 WPA
Who was the White Sox Cold Cat?
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Michael Kopech: 4 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 7 BB, 3 K, -.090 WPA
Tim Anderson: 0-for-4, 3 K, -.123 WPA
Elvis Andrus: 0-for-3, BB, -.357 WPA
Seby Zavala: 0-for-1, K, throwing error, -.150 WPA