Michael Kopech bounces back, helping the Chicago White Sox salvage the series finale with a 6-2 win against the New York Mets

20 July 2023

Michael Kopech’s day began with a called strike against Brandon Nimmo.

It was a just one pitch. But it established a tone for the Chicago White Sox starter Thursday against the New York Mets.

His last start was short but filled with command issues. He was much more in control Thursday, allowing one run in 5 2/3 innings as the Sox salvaged the finale of the three-game series with a 6-2 victory in front of 34,751 at Citi Field.

“Getting ahead of guys has been the game plan all along. Today I was able to execute that,” Kopech said. “Still a few too many free bases. Little erratic at times, but for the most part I was able to limit that.”

In a positive sign, Kopech threw first-pitch strikes to the first six batters he faced.

“He made a ton of adjustments both physically and mentally (and) he went out and executed,” manager Pedro Grifol said. “Threw good mix of all of his pitches. Got a big double play (in the third inning). And just had a really good outing. Overall he did a great job.”

The right-hander allowed just two hits, a single and homer by Omar Narváez, while striking out five and walking four. The defense aided, particularly in the third when shortstop Tim Anderson fielded Tommy Pham’s hard-hit one-hopper to start an inning-ending double play.

“Saved me a few pitches, quite a few laboring pitches,” Kopech said of the double play. “Struggling for a couple of batters there, he made a great play and was able to keep me rolling.”

Kopech rolled into the sixth for his first start of at least five innings since June 10 against the Miami Marlins, when he allowed no runs on five hits in five innings.

“It’s been a little while since I’ve stretched out past five,” Kopech said. “Coming off the IL and having a short one my first one back (38 pitches), I know my pitch count is limited (he threw 89 pitches Thursday), would have been nice to get six. To get out there and stretch myself as long as I could felt good.”

Kopech bounced back nicely after allowing four runs in two-thirds of an inning in a 9-0 loss to the Atlanta Braves on July 14 at Truist Park.

“You’ve got to flush one to go to the next and to be able to move on and get back on track,” Kopech said. “I feel that’s key for me to be able to finish off the season strong.”

The bats also rebounded after being shut down by Justin Verlander in Wednesday’s 5-1 loss.

The Sox matched their hit total from Wednesday (three) in Thursday’s first inning. Anderson, Luis Robert Jr. and Eloy Jiménez singled against former Sox pitcher José Quintana.

Anderson scored on Jiménez’s hit. Jiménez and Dylan Cease were part of the deal that sent Quintana from the Sox to the Cubs in 2017.

Zach Remillard doubled in the second and scored on an Elvis Andrus sacrifice fly to give the Sox a 2-0 lead.

Narváez, another former Sox, cut the lead in half by homering with two outs in the fifth.

The Sox responded with four in the sixth. Yasmani Grandal had a two-run double, while Oscar Colás (sacrifice fly) and Andrus (triple) added RBIs in the inning.

Anderson, Remillard and Jiménez — who missed the previous two games dealing with left groin tightness — had two hits. Grandal and Andrus had two RBIs.

“Every time we score early, we set the tone for the game,” Andrus said. “The front of the lineup did an amazing job as well as the back of the lineup. We did a really good job getting on base. (Remillard) had a great game, Colás and myself.

“Every time we do that, we’re going to make things easier for the top of the order. It was just a great team effort.”

And it was a performance to build on for Kopech.

“I think everybody is always developing,” Grifol said. “Him navigating a full season, 30 starts, having not done it before, this is new to him so he’s had a couple of breaks, he’s had a couple of setbacks, but he’s rebounded extremely well.

“We’ll get back to work. He’ll get back to work with (pitching coach) Ethan (Katz) and (bullpen coach) Curt (Hasler) and see where we’re at the next outing.”


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