Tepera, bullpen deliver when needed most

October 12th, 2021

CHICAGO -- wasn’t the biggest relief name acquired by the White Sox at the Trade Deadline.

He wasn’t even the biggest name acquired from the Cubs, with the White Sox adding closer-turned-eighth-inning setup man Craig Kimbrel one day after Tepera. But the value of that particular crosstown trade shined through in a 12-6 victory over the Astros Sunday night at Guaranteed Rate Field, as the White Sox avoided American League Division Series elimination with the Game 3 victory.

Starter Dylan Cease lasted only 1 2/3 innings, meaning the bullpen would be called upon for significant work for the third straight time in this best-of-five series. That significant work turned into a game-ending five perfect innings, with Tepera leading the way by striking out three in two frames.

“We just attacked the zone, and it was kind of a momentum switch almost,” Tepera said. “You know, it was just being confident and throwing pitches, kind of mixing it up and getting the momentum back on our side.”

Tepera praised Michael Kopech, the first man out of the bullpen who allowed three runs over 2 1/3 innings and eventually earned the victory, for picking up much-needed outs after Cease. Kopech struck out five, including Yordan Alvarez with two on and two out to end the fourth and keep the game tied at 6. Then came Tepera.

Aaron Bummer followed with four strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings before Kimbrel (one-third of an inning) and Liam Hendriks (one inning) closed it out. They may be called upon again Monday in Game 4, especially with a possible innings limit for starter Carlos Rodón.

“Thankfully our offense and our bullpen, as well, were able to make it happen and pick me up,” Cease said. “So it was good.”

“They definitely have a lineup that from one through nine, they are all going to be battling it out, and they know exactly what they want to do, and they feed off each other,” White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal said of the Astros. “So you need to limit all the damage as much as you can, and I felt like the bullpen did a great job of that.”

Tepera had a different take on the Astros, and he wasn't quite as complimentary as Grandal.

"They've had a reputation of doing some sketchy stuff over there,” he said. “We can say it's a little bit of a difference. I think you saw the swings and misses tonight compared to the first two games at Minute Maid.”

It was all part of the highly competitive, season-on-the-line situation Tepera was looking for when at the end of July he went from a team out of contention in the Cubs to the American League Central leaders.

“Yeah, you know, I was traded over here from the Cubs and was brought here to win a championship and be a part of a great bullpen,” Tepera said. “We have some good arms down there, and give credit to Kopech and Bummer tonight.

“Man, they really threw the ball well, especially Bummer. You know, he was lights-out. That was a big help, so all I can say really is it was a lot of fun.”