As spot starters go, it’s always nice to have Michael Kopech available.
As spot starts go, four innings of one-run ball from Kopech will do just fine, especially in a seven-inning game.
The Sox’ talented right-hander, making his third start to go with seven relief appearances, positioned the Sox to gain a split of their split doubleheader with the Royals Friday night, holding the Royals in check in a 3-1 victory at Guaranteed Rate Field.
The Sox (23-14) have won seven of their last eight.
Kopech allowed two hits, including a homer by Carlos Santana in the third inning. After that, he struck out the side in the fourth and called it a night.
Codi Heuer (3-1) pitched a scoreless fifth, Aaron Bummer a perfect sixth and Liam Hendriks pitched a scoreless seventh for his eighth save.
Kopech struck out five and walked two, throwing 65 pitches, 40 for strikes. In three starts covering 12 innings, Kopech has allowed three runs. His ERA is 1.71 to go with 40 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings.
“He had Tommy John surgery, missed a full year, took last year off, and he’s come back to the team like a man on a mission,” Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito said. “His focus, his work ethic, it’s like he hasn’t lost a step after taking all that time off. It’s really, really impressive. It’s always a blast to watch him pitch because his stuff is absolutely electric. His mindset, everything emotional, just completely in control. It’s great to see.”
Vaughn homers again
After waiting 24 games to get his first career homer Wednesday, rookie Andrew Vaughn hit his second in three days, a 421-foot two-run shot to left-center against right-hander Jakob Junis that gave Kopech a 2-0 lead in the second inning of Game 2.
Vaughn has reached base in 22 of 27 games. He made his first start at first base, his natural position.
Signs of improvement, but Giolito still not there
Giolito (4.97 ERA) is still searching for the effectiveness that earned him the title of staff ace going into the season. Giolito and manager Tony La Russa both liked the way Giolito, who allowed wind-aided homers to Michael Taylor and Salvador Perez amounting to his five runs allowed, threw in Game 1, a 6-2 loss that ended the Sox’ six-game win streak.
“I thought I threw the ball well, but you know, three run homer, two-run homer — it’s not good,” Giolito said.
Giolito had better life on his fastball, got 18 swings and misses and struck out seven over six innings.
“I’m doing everything in my power to prepare, I’m going into these games very confident, and that’s all I can do,” he said.
“We found a mechanical adjustment earlier this week that works for me. I carried that into the game, I felt pretty good, but the results weren’t good. So that sucks.”