The White Sox were behind big early. Their starting pitcher was having another rough day. And if there was any buzz Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field, it came from the spreading news that Michael Kopech is finally coming to Chicago.
And then things changed. After trailing 6-0, the Sox came back to beat the Royals 7-6 to make the on-field action a positive sidebar to the Kopech news.
“It was certainly a great team win for sure,” manager Rick Renteria said.
The Sox answered a six-run Royals second with six of their own in the fourth, and took the lead in the fifth on an Omar Narvaez single. After Reynaldo Lopez was lifted in the third, Hector Santiago and five other relievers combined to throw seven scoreless innings to make it possible for the Sox to rally and win the series against last-place Kansas City.
During their six-run fourth, Avisail Garcia, Tim Anderson and Narvaez all homered.
“I thought we put together some pretty good at-bats,” Renteria said. “Obviously some guys hit the ball out of the ballpark, and the relief corps coming in doing a very nice job of containing them the rest of the ballgame. It says a lot about them, because they’re fighting.”
It was noteworthy how the Sox scored in the fifth. Two days after being benched for not hustling on the bases, Garcia motored from second to score the go-ahead run.
“That’s him. He’s pushing himself,” Renteria said. “He’s a little sore, but he’s pushing himself when he needs to and that’s all I can ask of him.”
Lopez struggles again
Lopez has worked 143 innings, and was asked whether fatigue is contributing to his recent struggles. His answer was firm.
“No,” he said through a translator. ‘‘I don’t think so.’’
The 24-year-old right-hander allowed six runs in two innings. During that second, he gave up home runs to Ryan O’Hearn, Whit Merrifield and Alex Gordon. His day ended in the top of the third after a Jorge Bonifacio single. He left with a 4.72 ERA.
Sunday was the latest struggle for Lopez, whose last win came July 1 against Texas. He’s winless in his last eight starts, and he has given up four or more earned runs in five of his last seven outings. But the cause isn’t the fatigue of a long season, Renteria said.
“He’s throwing 97, 98 mph. It’s not fatigue,” Renteria said. “He’s not executing. He’s not hitting the spots that he needs to and that’s more just a feel.”
Up and back
The Sox and Twins play three times this week, but the series isn’t exactly a conventional one.
Monday’s game at Target Field is a makeup of one of the three April games in Minnesota that were postponed because of snow. After Monday, the teams come to Guaranteed Rate Field for two games to finish the unusual series.
“It’s an odd thing for sure. We’re going to leave here, play a 6 o’clock game tomorrow and then come on back,” Renteria said. “It’s unique. I’ve never experienced it. It’s one of those things baseball has to offer and we just have to deal with it.”
In the booth
Paul Konerko called Sunday’s game with Ken “Hawk” Harrelson on NBC Sports Chicago.