KANSAS CITY – A quick stop to face a division rival on Monday had a bit of a disastrous start for the White Sox at Kauffman Stadium.
Not only have they fallen behind the Royals quickly, but they also saw one of their starters make an early exit from the contest.
Michael Kopech was pulled from his outing after just 19 pitches and facing just four batters, none of which he was able to retire, during a four-run first inning for Kansas City. While the White Sox would rally to tie the game, the Royals would get two runs in the eighth inning to win it 6-4.
The defeat drops the White Sox to 62-60 on the season as they now sit three games in back of the Guardians for first in the AL Central.
After he was removed, the White Sox announced that the starter left the game with left knee soreness and was under further evaluation. After the game, manager Tony La Russa told reporters it was more of a hamstring issue that Kopech was dealing with during the game.
Before he started the bottom half of the first, television replays showed Kopech in some pain on his last warm-up pitch. While he showed some frustration after the delivery, he remained on the mound to start the frame.
Kopech walked MJ Melendez on six pitches to open the inning then hit Bobby Witt Jr. on the third pitch of the next at-bat. Salvador Perez’s single to right field would bring in the first run and another walk to Vinnie Pasquantino to load the bases.
After that, manager Tony La Russa and athletic trainers walked out to Kopech to check on the pitcher and he was quickly pulled from the game.
The starter typically throws around 95 miles per hour but wasn’t able to get any pitches past 93 miles per hour in his quick outing. Kopech was charged with all four runs in the inning as Jimmy Lambert couldn’t prevent those he inherited from reaching the plate.
In his third major league season with the White Sox, Kopech came into Monday’s start with a 3.25 ERA in 22 starts with a 4-9 record. He’s had 98 strikeouts compared to 53 walks
Yet the White Sox would stage a rally thanks to newly acquired shortstop Elvis Andrus, who knocked in two runs with a single in a three-run fourth and then doubled home the tying run in the seventh. But the visitor’s bullpen ran into trouble in the eighth with Joe Kelly loading the bases and then walking in a run before being pulled.
He was charged with a second run when Jose Ruiz came in and allowed a sacrifice fly to MJ Melendez on the first batter. While he didn’t allow any damage after that, the White Sox offense wasn’t able to counter in another difficult day on the field.
At least Johnny Cueto had a positive moment as he was named the American League’s Player of the Week after two victorious outings against the Astros and Guardians.