'Ain't no bad win': Sox ready to capitalize

July 10th, 2022

CHICAGO -- The White Sox 4-2 victory over the Tigers on Sunday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field finished a lot better than it started for Tony La Russa’s crew.

And with eight road games in the next seven days at Cleveland and Minnesota, it was the perfect comeback effort needed for this team sitting five games behind in the American League Central to start the final week of the first half.

“Well, there ain’t no bad win,” said a smiling La Russa. “Happy flight. Let’s start with the happy flight.”

“Dropping the first two to these guys wasn't easy,” said White Sox closer , who picked up his 17th save. “But being able to bounce back and be able to win convincingly last night and then kind of snatch one from them a little bit today was something I believe was necessary for turning the corner and getting the right vibe going around everywhere.”

As for that less-than-ideal start … .

threw the first five pitches of the game out of the zone to Riley Greene and Javier Báez, and on the sixth pitch, Báez turned on a 91.6 mph four-seamer for a two-run home run. The crowd let its feelings be known toward Báez, with the former Cubs stalwart playing the perfect pro wrestling heel all weekend, but the real concern was Kopech.

The White Sox needed quality innings; innings, at the very least, with a doubleheader Tuesday in Cleveland. But with a four-seamer topping out at 94 mph and his fastball average down 2.9 mph at 92.1, per Statcast, Kopech held the Tigers scoreless moving forward into the sixth.

“A little bit of a grind game today, but happy with how we are able to compete and stay in the game,” said Kopech, who allowed four hits, walked three and struck out four over 82 pitches. “I didn’t have my best stuff today.

“Probably one of the games where I consider having my worst stuff. There were some positives in there. Found my slider today, but with working with what you got, you gotta get as deep as you can to give your team a chance to win. I didn’t get super deep today, but I felt like I was able to fight with what I had.”

That fight, with help from relievers ,  and  (3-1) allowed the White Sox (41-43) to fight back against Detroit starter Drew Hutchison. , who homered to center on a 3-0 pitch in the first inning during Saturday’s shutout, launched the game-tying home run to right on a 3-2 count as the culmination of an eight-pitch at-bat with two outs in the sixth.

“Trying to put together a big at-bat there. In a game like that, you want to get some kind of spark,” said Sheets, who has hit all 18 of his career home runs off right-handed pitchers. “That was big to be able to do it there and have a big at-bat and get the energy up and get things going.”

“It’s been a good two days to show [Sheets'] potential,” La Russa said. “He takes a 3-0 pitch and hits one with two strikes. We talked about it last year. Complimenting the guys [coaching] in Triple-A. … All those young hitters came up with a really good two-strike approach. Just want him to stay hot.”

delivered the go-ahead run with a pinch-hit single in the eighth off Gregory Soto, scoring Luis Robert, who reached second with two outs when Robbie Grossman dropped his fly ball. That miscue ended Grossman’s 440-game errorless streak.

Taking advantage of mistakes has worked against the White Sox this season. In this instance, it gave them a chance for victory and they didn’t miss. Chicago now takes two straight wins of momentum into a pair of four-game series against the two teams ahead of it in the division standings.

Not exactly must-win time, but a very important stretch for a team fighting toward the postseason.

“Get after it,” Sheets said. “We got a couple of games, and then we got a four-day break. Could be a tough stretch, but we got a break coming, so there’s no reason for us not to get after it and get some wins.”

“Just inside this clubhouse, gain that [sense of] we are better than everybody else and we can do this,” Hendriks said. “We need to get that mindset back, and that's something we've had spurts of but hasn't really caught fire yet. I'm hoping games like yesterday and today in a row will help spark that fire a little bit."