Well-rested Michael Kopech KO’d early in White Sox’ 7-3 loss to Blue Jays
Ten days after throwing seven innings of scoreless one-hit ball against the Yankees, a masterful effort that dropped his ERA to 1.29, Kopech allowed five runs and lasted only three innings Wednesday.
TORONTO — Michael Kopech had nine days of rest going into his start Wednesday against the Blue Jays.
Perhaps it was too much rest and too much rust for the White Sox right-hander.
Kopech wasn’t making that excuse after his worst performance of the season.
“If anything, the time off made me feel fresh,” Kopech said. “I got excited feeling that way and tried to do too much. But I wouldn’t correlate it to that time [off]. It was just me getting myself worked up.”
Ten days after throwing seven innings of scoreless one-hit ball against the Yankees, a masterful effort that dropped his ERA to 1.29, Kopech allowed five runs and lasted only three innings in a 7-3 loss to the Jays at Rogers Centre. Santiago Espinal hit a home run on Kopech’s second pitch, and Kopech never got on course.
In the third inning, he missed the mark with his slider and fastball. And after Teoscar Hernandez and Matt Chapman reached on the Jays’ third and fourth walks, catcher Danny Jansen ripped a three-run homer to put the Sox in a 5-1 hole. Jansen, the No. 8 hitter on a team full of sluggers that has won seven straight games, has seven homers, more than any Sox hitter.
“As a pitcher, you can give those great hitting teams a little too much credit where it becomes a bit of a mind game,” Kopech said. “I did that today. I tried to make my pitches better than they were, and these guys kind of worked me that way. There is damage to be done through that lineup, and they got the better of me today.”
Kopech needed 85 pitches, 46 of which were strikes, to get through his three innings. He had allowed four extra-base hits in his previous eight starts but doubled that total in this short start that dropped the Sox to 23-25.
The extra rest is part of the Sox’ plan to monitor Kopech’s innings in his first year as a starter. Dylan Cease has talked about the challenge of shaking off the rust and maintaining a feel for his pitches after extra rest, and Kopech has, too.
“He didn’t have good command with his slider,” manager Tony La Russa said. “There’s two sides of it. We’re trying to preserve him, but it’s out of the routine to have that much rest. I think it’s an explanation. Some may think it’s an excuse.”
When Cease faced Boston on May 24 on six days of rest, he allowed seven runs and eight hits, including two homers, in three innings.
“Sometimes it’s nice to ride a positive start into the next one,” said Kopech, who was coming off two gems against the Yankees.
But Kopech called the extra rest “a positive thing — the team’s way of looking out for me since I haven’t thrown so much the last few years.”
AJ Pollock gave Kopech an instant lead with a homer against lefty Hyun Jin Ryu (who left after four innings with tightness in his left forearm) leading off the game. Trailing 5-1, the Sox cut the gap to 5-3 on Jose Abreu’s sixth homer, a two-run shot in the fourth. Abreu moved into fifth on the Sox’ all-time RBI list with 810, passing Minnie Minoso.
The Sox’ bullpen kept the Jays in reach until Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s two-run homer in the eighth against Bennett Sousa made it 7-3.
Starting a stretch of six games on the road against the Blue Jays and Rays and then a home series against the Dodgers, the Sox had their second straight bad outing by a starter. Lucas Giolito allowed six runs in 4‰ innings.
“I need to be pitch to pitch and be present with every pitch I throw and be there for every at-bat of it,” Kopech said. “Today I was at-bat to at-bat looking for a result that wasn’t there yet. It’s a patient process.”