DETROIT -- Michael Kopech is still getting acclimated to life in the big leagues. After notching his first career win Sunday afternoon against the Tigers at Comerica Park, he got to his locker and had to ask a White Sox assistant what to do with his game pants.It wasn't Kopech's
DETROIT -- Michael Kopech is still getting acclimated to life in the big leagues. After notching his first career win Sunday afternoon against the Tigers at Comerica Park, he got to his locker and had to ask a White Sox assistant what to do with his game pants.
It wasn't Kopech's first start, but it was the first time he was able to stretch out his arm in a Major League game, throwing six innings of one-run ball in a 7-2 win. Kopech's debut on Aug. 21 was cut short after two innings because of a lengthy rain delay. But there was no sign of inclement weather in Detroit on Sunday, leaving the 22-year-old to his own devices, for better or worse.
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Kopech (1-0) struggled through most of the game to find command on his offspeed pitches, which contributed to Kopech needing to draw on something -- not Major League experience, certainly -- to pitch through a couple jams.
"I know it sounds silly to say that in my second start in the big leagues, I didn't have my best stuff," Kopech said. "But I didn't have my best stuff today, and it was one of those outings where I had to grind through it. I'm fortunate to know that now, when I do have to grind through it, I know that my stuff is good enough to still get big league hitters out."
Kopech relied heavily on his four-seam fastball, throwing it for six swinging strikes. He got that fastball up to 98 mph, though Kopech said the velocity overall was down.
The White Sox have been stressing the maturity of their No.-2 ranked prospect, and he backed up the talk by working through a few tight spots.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth inning, Kopech got Ronny Rodriguez to fly out to Adam Engel in center field to douse the threat. That was after hitting two batters. Kopech threw five scoreless innings, becoming the first White Sox pitcher to keep a team scoreless for that long in his second career game since John Snyder in 1998. Kopech is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 13 overall prospect in baseball.
"A lot of the reports we had gotten over the last seven or eight of his outings were pretty significant, very close to what he'd been doing today," manager Rick Renteria said of Kopech's maturity.
Kopech allowed his first Major League run in the sixth inning, when the Tigers got three straight hits, including two doubles. Victor Martinez doubled to right field to score Nicholas Castellanos. White Sox right fielder Avisail Garcia threw to second base instead of home, allowing Castellanos to score without a play. A single by Michael Mahtook to center loaded the bases with one out, but Kopech pitched out of it by getting Rodriguez to ground into a 6-4-3 double play.
"That was awesome," Kopech said. "I was pumped up about that."
Kopech also demonstrated his resolve in the second inning after being hit in the lower body by a grounder that came off Mahtook's bat at 99.7 mph, according to Statcast™. After throwing a warmup pitch, Kopech ended the inning by getting Rodriguez to fly out to center.
"I really don't think it's sunk in for me yet," Kopech said of getting his first win. "We're playing well, and we have been since I got here. Right now, winning feels normal. I hope that winning continues to feel normal."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
For the second straight game, the White Sox jumped on Tigers starting pitching to give their own staff plenty of breathing room. The third inning was especially productive, with the White Sox getting to Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann (6-6) for four runs. After three of the first four batters reached, Garcia hit a two-run single to center field to get the White Sox on the board.
The next batter, Daniel Palka, laced a two-run home run to right field. Palka's 19th homer of the season had an exit velocity of 111.1 mph, according to Statcast™.
The White Sox got to Zimmermann for five runs in six innings and added two more in the seventh off Buck Farmer.
Engel went 2-for-4 on Sunday, marking his seventh multi-hit performance in his last 14 games. Engel is hitting .333 (17-for-51) in that span.
HE SAID IT
"Honestly, I don't know if it hit me or not. My adrenaline was going a little bit. There was no way I was coming out of the game. I decided I would throw a pitch to make everybody happy and keep going." -- Kopech, on getting hit in the thigh in the second inning
The White Sox head to Yankee Stadium for a three-game series with the Yankees, beginning with a 6:05 p.m. CT first pitch Monday. Pitching for Chicago will be Carlos Rodon (5-3, 2.71 ERA). Rodon will try to continue his August dominance, as he's sporting a 1.61 ERA in four starts. The Yankees will send out Masahiro Tanaka.
** Tyler Fenwick ** is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit.