Michael Kopech’s struggles continue in White Sox’ latest loss

The Sox were held to two hits, both by Luis Robert Jr., in a 9-0 rout at the hands of the Orioles.

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Michael Kopech reacts after throwing a wild pitch to allow a run in the fourth inning Monday, Aug. 28, 2023, in Baltimore. (AP)

White Sox pitcher Michael Kopech reacts after throwing a wild pitch to allow Orioles’ Ryan McKenna to score from third base during the fourth inning Monday, Aug. 28, 2023, in Baltimore. (AP)

AP Photos

BALTIMORE — Efficiency will get you places in short order.

Inefficiency — when it comes to not throwing strikes, racking up high pitch counts and failing to get past five innings — will get you where the White Sox are, enduring a long, never-ending season as one of the bottom feeders in the majors.

The latest example was the start Monday of talented but wild Michael Kopech, who needed 95 pitches to get through four innings in the Sox’ 9-0 loss to the Orioles. Kopech walked four and bounced a wild pitch that scored one of the Orioles’ four runs against him. He also gave up seven hits.

But as a reminder — as his three stars this season in which he carried a no-hitter into the sixth — of what his arm brings to the table, he struck out five and got nine swings-and-misses.

‘‘Results-wise, it was pretty tough,’’ Kopech said. ‘‘I think I threw some pretty good pitches that got hit. I also made a fair share of mistakes. Gave away some free bases and some steals. Ultimately, I’m not terribly upset with how I pitched, but it’s unfortunate when I can’t get to the fifth.

‘‘I threw too many pitches to get deep in the game.’’

Manager Pedro Grifol has tried to pound the mindset into all of his pitchers about pounding the strike zone. In other words, more attacking and less nibbling.

‘‘I want to economize pitches,’’ Grifol said.

Kopech also had three bases stolen on him, which has been an issue this season, too.

‘‘[Catcher] Korey Lee back there can throw,’’ Grifol said. ‘‘Giving up three bases like that was not acceptable. We have to clean that up.’’

Kopech was coming off an abbreviated four-inning start — because of leg cramps in high heat — in which he didn’t allow a run but walked four Mariners.

The Sox are figuring on Kopech manning an important place in their 2024 starting rotation, but he has allowed 51 walks covering 50⅓ innings in his last 12 starts. That’s an average of 4⅓ innings.

Kopech (5-12, 5.08 ERA) leads the American League with 84 walks in 124 innings.

‘‘His demeanor, presence and focus were good,’’ Grifol said. ‘‘His stuff was good. You can evaluate this outing many ways, I want to take the positives out of it, even though it was four innings.’’

Robert is lone bright spot

Luis Robert Jr. made a diving catch in the gap in left-center field and had both of the Sox’ hits, including his 33rd double.

Robert’s 68 extra-base hits are second in the AL and the most by a Sox outfielder since Alex Rios had 70 in 2012. Trayce Thompson pinch-hit for Robert in the ninth, but Grifol said Robert was OK.

Rodriguez dominates

The Orioles’ Grayson Rodriguez, who entered with a 5.38 ERA, handcuffed the Sox on one hit and one walk in six innings. Rodriguez, who touched 100 mph multiple times, struck out six. The Sox were hitting .291/.328/.483 in their last nine games.

In the books

Shortstop Tim Anderson had his season-high 13-game on-base streak snapped. He needs three hits to become the 19th player with his first 1,000 in a Sox uniform.

• Reliever Bryan Shaw needs 28 more appearances to become the 55th pitcher to reach 800 in his career. He has appeared in 60-plus games in 10 consecutive seasons.

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