White Sox tie mark with 20 K's; Lopez fans 14

April 28th, 2019

CHICAGO -- Sunday’s 4-1 White Sox victory over the Tigers at Guaranteed Rate Field was brought to you by the letter K.

K, as in a career-high 14 strikeouts recorded by White Sox starting pitcher , and K, as in 20 strikeouts produced from four White Sox pitchers, tying the Major League team record for nine innings. It’s the seventh time a team has reached 20 strikeouts and the third since 2016.

Eighteen strikeouts stood as the previous nine-inning franchise mark.

“Today's outing was one of the best of my career, definitely,” Lopez said through interpreter Billy Russo after allowing one unearned run over six innings and 105 pitches. “You can compare this with one or two from last year. Everything worked perfectly, and I felt good.”

“He did a heck of a job,” White Sox shortstop said. “Lopey had a big outing, and all the guys followed behind them, so a heck of a day from the pitching. Can't do a better job.”

Lopez exited on a high note in the sixth inning by striking out Brandon Dixon with runners on first and second, two outs and a 2-1 lead. Dixon had stepped out of the batter’s box late before the final pitch, leading to a demonstrative mound reaction from Lopez when he fired a 96.9 mph fastball past the first baseman on the seventh pitch of the at-bat.

Jack Harshman holds the single-game White Sox franchise record of 16 strikeouts on July 25, 1954 at Boston. But Lopez’s 24 swinging strikes recorded, per Statcast, were a new personal high. His prior high was 17 on Sept. 9, 2018. His 14 strikeouts tied for eighth most in franchise history, most recently done by Chris Sale on Aug. 26, 2016, vs. Seattle.

In his past three starts, against the Royals and Tigers twice, Lopez has allowed three earned runs in 18 innings with 27 strikeouts against five walks. Lopez lost to the Tigers last Sunday at Comerica Park, when he struck out eight over six, but his command across the board was decidedly better in the White Sox second straight win.

“Pfffft. Different guy. He was a different guy today,” said Detroit designated hitter Miguel Cabrera, who fanned three times against Lopez. “I saw the guy that I faced the first time I faced him [in 2017]. It was hard because he can throw his fastball 95 with sink, and he can finish it with 98 straight. Today, it was really good.”

“His stuff was pretty electric today,” Detroit catcher Grayson Greiner said. “Some days you can kind of eliminate one of his pitches, and he had everything going today. He had the fastball up to 98, and he was throwing his curveball and slider down and away and mixing his changeup in there. He had elite stuff today.”

Those 14 strikeouts tied Lopez with the Mets' Jacob deGrom for the Major League season high. All but one of Lopez's K’s came on four-seam fastballs, making him just the third pitcher in the pitch tracking era (since 2008) to record 13 K’s on 4-seamers in one game.

“I've gotten very good results when I've been able to command that fastball up in the zone because I can challenge the batter,” Lopez said. “I know I have good velocity with my fastball. It's not going to be easy for them to hit my fastball when I'm able to perform and to hit the spot I want to hit.”

Every Tigers starter but Niko Goodrum and Ronny Rodriguez struck out at least once, while four struck out at least three times. ’s two-out, two-run double off Matthew Boyd in the first was all the White Sox needed in support of this historic mound effort.

“What can I say? I wasn’t thinking about that,” Castillo, the catcher, said of the 20 strikeouts. “I was just really focused about the game. I tried to make them execute the pitch, and I think that’s what they did.”