Michael Kopech picked a bad day to have a bad day.
The White Sox are trying to catch the first-place Twins in the AL Central, and the Sox right-hander got roughed up for four homers in an 8-2 loss.
The Twins expanded their lead over the Sox to 6 1/2 games and will go for a three-game sweep Wednesday afternoon.
“Obviously it’s a big series,” Kopech said. “We want to beat these guys, so it’s tough right now.”
Kopech gave up six runs on eight hits in his fourth undistinguished outing since exiting a start with a sore right knee on June 13. He walked four and struck out five over 4 2/3 innings.
“There’s a couple of things they’ll be working on to get him fixed,” manager Tony La Russa said. “I don’t want to get into [specifics]. It’s all fixable.”
La Russa and Kopech said the pitcher is OK physically.
“It’s more about getting back to the drawing board, figuring some things out,” Kopech said. “Obviously I didn’t make some well-executed pitches today. I left a lot over the middle of the plate and got taken advantage of a lot.
“We’re going to figure it out. It’s not like there’s any defined answer. I know what that was. It wasn’t good. We’re going to work.”
The homers by Max Kepler, Jose Miranda, Alex Kirilloff and Jorge Polanco gave Sox opponents 52 at Guaranteed Rate Field. By comparison, the Sox have 32. Kirilloff homered again in the seventh against Vince Velasquez, giving the Twins an 8-2 lead.
Kopech owned a 1.92 ERA when he left his start against the Rangers after 13 pitches with a sore right knee. He made his next start a week later, but has allowed 16 earned runs in 21 innings since, raising his ERA to 3.34. La Russa said the knee is “not an issue.”
“Good question to ask, but that’s not a problem,” La Russa said.
The Sox began a pivotal stretch of 18 consecutive games against AL Central opponents Monday. They entered the series after sweeping the Giants on the road and getting to within a game of .500.
“Everybody is looking forward to turning it around, however it comes,” Kopech said. “The effort and energy has been there from the guys on and off the field in the clubhouse. As a starter, I’ve got to do my part to set the tone and that goes a long way. Everything’s good. It’s not how we want to play, especially the first two in a series against these guys, but we’re capable of turning it around.”
Josh Winder pitched five innings of two-run ball on short notice after scheduled starter Chris Archer went on the 15-day injured list because of tightness in his left hip.
“We have to keep plugging away,” said second baseman Josh Harrison, who collected his 1,000th career hit before mopping up on the mound as a pitcher in the (scoreless) ninth inning. “I don’t know how many games we’ve played against them but we know what lies ahead of us. This is what our job requires us to do, show up and not worry about the standings or what’s going to happen over the next couple of months. We have to take it one day at a time. We do that, we’ll be where want to be.”