Twins clobber Kopech with four homers, White Sox sink lower in AL Central

A troubling thing happened Tuesday on the way to the White Sox having their starting rotation together.

Right-hander Michael Kopech had his fourth straight undistinguished or bad start since leaving a game with a sore right knee on June 13, and this one against the Twins was the worst of the lot. After walking three batters but escaping in the first inning, Kopech was ambushed for four homers as the Sox struggled to even an important series at Guaranteed Rate Field.

A night after a perplexing Sox baserunning gaffe resulted in the first center field to third base triple play ever, the Twins knocked Kopech out in the fifth inning. Kopech allowed six runs on eight hits and four walks while striking out five over 4 2/3 innings and exited trailing 6-1.

The Twins led 8-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning when the game was delayed by rain.

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.

Kopech was 2-2 with a 2.17 ERA in five starts against first-place teams before Tuesday, including five scoreless innings at Minnesota April 22. He was trying to keep the Sox from falling to 0-5 against the Twins and to 5 1/2 games behind them in the AL Central standings.

The Sox began a stretch of 18 consecutive games against AL Central opponents Monday.

Grandal goes on rehab assignment

Yasmani Grandal leaves for a rehab assignment Wednesday and expects to rejoin the team July 22 after the All-Star break. Granda willl be at Double-A Birmingham through the weekend and then at Triple-A Charlotte, where he’ll work with Sox catching coordinator Julio Mosquera.

Grandal went on the IL with low back spasms June 13.

“My left leg actually pretty much turned off,” Grandal said. “Just because whatever was happening with my back hit a nerve and it like just completely shut the leg off.

“That was the biggest thing because if I wouldn’t have gotten the strength back in that left side, we would have gone in and gotten surgery. That was pretty much what concerned me. Thank God that wasn’t the case and we’ve been working back slowly.”

Jimenez back, but where?

Where Eloy Jimenez gets the bulk of his time — left field or designated hitter — when he comes off the injured list remains to be seen, although DH makes the most sense considering his defensive limitations and coming off an injury.

“You just go day to day,” manager Tony La Russa said. “I don’t know how realistic it is to play him three straight days in the outfield.”

A sore right leg has limited Andrew Vaughn to DH and first base since June 17, but he was working in the outfield with coach Daryl Boston Tuesday.

Jimenez’ arrival could bump third baseman Jake Burger, who is batting .250/.302/.458 with eight homers (and six errors) in 50 games, off the roster. Burger had one plate appearance on the west coast road trip last week, his time cut by Yoan Moncada’s return from the IL.

1,000 hit club

Josh Harrison had a double and single for his 999th and 1,000 career hits. Harrison is batting .353/.423/.500 since May 30.

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