The Chicago White Sox are once again playing a big series against a premier team in the MLB. After facing the New York Yankees twice last month, the White Sox are facing the Los Angeles Dodgers, another team that’s having a dominant season.
Everything was clicking for the White Sox on Tuesday night. It started with the team honoring Steve Stone for 40 years in the booth, and only got better from there.
The final score was 4-0 but that doesn’t tell the story of the decisive win. Moreover, the White Sox won another game (their third win in a row) with their bread and butter.
Kopech’s strong start
Michael Kopech continues to pitch well in a great season. This time, he stepped up again despite facing a potent lineup. The Dodgers average a league-best 5.37 runs per game, they scored zero against Kopech. Similarly, the Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays, two of the best batting orders, struggled against him.
When you have a fastball as Kopech has, it’s easy to see why he can and does dominate on the mound. However, this pitch has been in the works for years. It took time for Kopech to not only refine and properly locate the pitch but to use it without blowing out his arm. The pitch is thrown in the high 90s which is still faster than the rest of the starters in the game but is still toned down for the 26-year-old pitcher. 67 of his 98 pitches were fastballs and the Dodgers simply couldn’t get to the ball throughout the game.
In addition, the secondary pitches have made Kopech elite, a possible ace in any other rotation. Kopech has effectively mixed in his slider and curveball to keep batters guessing and further strengthen his best pitch. The strong start for the White Sox was a reminder of the strength of the team, the starting pitching and it’s the position that continues to carry a team that has otherwise struggled.
White Sox bats wake up in sixth
The game was a pitching duel. Despite Kopech’s brilliance, the Dodgers kept the game scoreless with Mitch White stepping up for five innings. Finally, White was taken out of the game and the White Sox took advantage.
The White Sox lineup has struggled this season, scoring only 3.65 runs per game. However, when the lineup needs to step up, it can. In the sixth inning, they finally got on base, setting up a two-out, two-on situation for AJ Pollock. With a pitch missing its location, Pollock made the Dodgers pay, hitting an outside pitch to the opposite field for a two-run double. Then the floodgates opened, at least enough for this roster.
Jake Burger wrapped a pitch down the middle of the plate to score Pollock. Two batters later, Reese McGuire was served a David Price offering that he hit to the leftfield gap, giving the White Sox their fourth run in the frame. The game itself didn’t look promising for the offense, after all, they only scored in one inning. However, the four-run frame continued to display something the fans have known all season, that the lineup can at any point wake up and pile on the runs.
White Sox bullpen seals victory
Following Kopech’s start, the White Sox only needed to find nine outs, with the entire bullpen to use. Reynaldo Lopez forced a double play, and Aaron Bummer got the strikeout to finish the seventh inning. Kendall Graveman pitched a scoreless eighth inning and only needed 13 pitches to do so. Finally, Liam Hendriks pitched the ninth inning to give the White Sox the 4-0 win.
The bullpen wasn’t anything special. However, it was a reminder of what the team looks like when things are clicking. The starting pitching sets up a strong game, the lineup drives in just enough runs, and the bullpen closes out the game. In a way, it feels like an effortless and clean win, something the White Sox will hope to have more of as the season progresses.
Why does this win against the Dodgers matter?
The White Sox are still trailing the Minnesota Twins by four games in the division. The Twins are the team they are chasing and will be chasing until the team surpasses them (if they can). However, this win was once again proved to the team and its fans what they are capable of.
The Dodgers are another team that is a measurement of success in the MLB this season. The White Sox entered this season with aspirations of competing for the World Series and in the process have to beat the best teams. They’ve beaten the best teams in the league and have gone toe to toe with them, a promising sign for a great roster. The White Sox still play two more games against the Dodgers in this series but early on, the team has a lot to look forward to.
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