White Sox pin down Guards with tag-team pitching on WWE Night

Fedde starts with 6-plus strong frames before Leasure sets stage for Kopech's 4-out save

May 10th, 2024

CHICAGO -- It seems only fitting on WWE Night at Guaranteed Rate Field that a tag-team effort on the mound propelled the White Sox to a 3-2 victory over American League Central-leading Cleveland in the opener of a four-game set.

threw six scoreless innings as the starter, and recorded four outs for his fourth save as the closer. But it was Fedde’s tag off to rookie right-hander that helped make this victory possible.

Fedde exited in the seventh after 88 pitches, allowing three straight singles to load the bases with none out and the White Sox leading, 3-0. Leasure, who had previously worked on Saturday and Sunday in St. Louis, struck out Bo Naylor on four pitches, fanned Tyler Freeman and retired Kyle Manzardo on a routine grounder to second baseman Nicky Lopez.

“It’s probably one of the biggest moments you can have, to come out of that with no damage,” Leasure said. “It was pretty cool.”

“He has electric stuff, so when he puts it on display, it's great,” Fedde said of Leasure. “My ERA thanks him greatly."

Manager Pedro Grifol had a method behind Leasure’s usage aside from his ascension into late-inning, high-leverage work.

“No. 1, I have a lot of confidence in Jordan. No. 2, he’s got weapons and No. 3, he was well-rested so I knew he was going to come in with a pretty good fastball,” Grifol said. “In reality, I probably could have gone to him a hitter earlier.

“I trusted Fedde to induce a ground ball and two of those three guys, those weren’t hard-hit balls. He had thrown the ball great, but Jordan did a phenomenal job.”

There was no set White Sox closer when the 2024 campaign began, with nobody possessing extensive ninth-inning experience on the roster. Grifol knew it would take some time for roles to be established, but he now has Leasure, John Brebbia and Steven Wilson as pitchers who can lead into Kopech.

Kopech threw 12 four-seam fastballs among his 14 pitches over 1 1/3 innings, topping out at 100 mph, according to Statcast. He sealed the White Sox third winning streak of at least two games and 10th win against 28 losses overall on Manzardo’s grounder to rookie third baseman Bryan Ramos.

“Things are going well for us as a group, and they are going well for us individually as well -- gaining some momentum,” Kopech said. “It’s a lot more fun to pitch in situations where you feel the momentum is in your hands.”

Tommy Pham, Eloy Jimenez and Ramos had two hits apiece, with Chicago scoring one in the first and two in the second off Cleveland starter Ben Lively (1-2). That support was plenty for Fedde, who struck out three and didn’t issue a walk.

Fedde’s repertoire featured a reliance on the cutter (30 pitches), splitter (28) and sinker, according to Statcast. He picked up eight ground-ball outs and exited with a 3.00 ERA over eight starts, bouncing back from a rough effort on Saturday against the Cardinals and a non-quality start in Cleveland on April 10.

“Felt like I was able to mix up a ton,” Fedde said. “Changeup was really good today. Not quite a swing-and-miss pitch today, but I felt like it was always on the ground for the most part and was able to get a lot of leadoff guys out, and it just led me to always having a chance to get through clean innings."

“The goal of the pitcher is to move batters’ heads back and forward and up and down, and I think he did a really good job with that with the cutter,” Cleveland right fielder Will Brennan said. “He's got one of those weird air cutters that kind of back up, and when it's up and away it's pretty tough pitch to hit. But we had opportunities, obviously.”

Thursday’s win raised the White Sox record to 3-18 against the AL Central and 2-2 against the Guardians (24-14). It’s not exactly winning the championship belt, but still is a step in the right direction.

"We're playing great. The guys that we've added have played well,” Fedde said. “We always felt like this team had potential. We've had some bad injury luck, especially altogether was a low point for us.

“Over our last 13 games, we're playing at least .500 ball [7-6 last 13]. That's who we expect to be. Keep winning series and put our heads down, and keep chugging along."