Michael Kopech throws gem as White Sox beat Dodgers for third win in row
The White Sox’ owner, fans and general manager have this in common: “We’ve all had our patience tested,” GM Rick Hahn said.
Let’s face it, the White Sox have been a tough watch.
For ownership, upper management, broadcasters and fans, a team slogging along below .500 for the first two months of a season that was supposed to be better than this hasn’t been easy on the eyes.
General manager Rick Hahn has seen the same things.
“I throw stuff,” Hahn said Tuesday before the Sox opened a three-game series against the Dodgers with a 4-0 victory at Guaranteed Rate Field. “I’ve been walking a lot. I leave the house when I’m not with the team. [During home games], I walk in the tunnels a lot.”
Hahn probably threw stuff when Reese McGuire (looking) and Josh Harrison (swinging) struck out with the bases loaded to end the fifth inning against Mitch White (five innings, two hits allowed), making the Sox 4-for-39 with 14 strikeouts with the bases loaded. Seeing Michael Kopech (2-2) pitch a masterful six innings of scoreless one-hit ball with a season-high eight strikeouts and one walk made the offensive futility particularly frustrating.
But that’s the way it has been this season. Too much of that and not enough of what the Sox did in the sixth against relievers Phil Bickford (0-1) and David Price — a four-run burst featuring former Dodger AJ Pollock’s pinch two-run double on Price’s first pitch that broke a scoreless tie, an RBI double by Jake Burger and an RBI single by McGuire.
“We did a good job of staying patient, staying calm and got some guys on, and we were able to get some hits,” Pollock said.
Everyone was happy.
The Sox are in the thick of their contention window and are coming off a second straight year in the postseason but haven’t looked like a team that will be a threat in the playoffs — if they make it. Their victory against the Dodgers (35-20) pulled them to within a game of .500 at 26-27.
“Those closest to me will attest that, yes, my patience has been tested,” Hahn said. “But that makes me no different from any White Sox fan or ardent follower of this club.”
Hahn is also optimistic, knowing Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez, Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly will heal from injuries and bolster the roster before long and trusting, from conversations and meetings with staff, that underperforming healthy players such as Yasmani Grandal and Yoan Moncada will get “out of their ruts.”
“The reasons for optimism are legitimate and make me feel better,” he said, enough “to give it a little longer, perhaps, before my patience runs out.
“All of us — whether it’s Jerry [Reinsdorf], Kenny [Williams], myself, the coaches, any White Sox fan — we’ve all had our patience tested.
‘‘But the fundamentals of who this team is remain. We’re fortunate that baseball is a long season, and over the course of a long season, things tend to play out the way the talent permits. And we feel good about this talent.”
That talent includes Kopech, who was on top of his game again after allowing five runs over three innings in his start in Toronto. Kopech, who has a 1.94 ERA, had his third one-hit performance in his last four outings, the other two came against the Yankees. This one was against the best scoring offense in the majors.
“Everything was direct to the plate, good stuff, good location, good command,” manager Tony La Russa said.
Even with three games against the Dodgers this week, the Sox have the easiest remaining strength of schedule in the majors, with an opponents’ winning percentage of .473.
The Sox are 12-8 against the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox and Dodgers.
“I don’t think anybody has been worried when we’ve had struggles at times,” Kopech said. “We’re capable of a quick turnaround at any moment, and we showed that tonight. It was cool.”