In brutal conditions at Wrigley, White Sox take opener

May 4th, 2022

CHICAGO -- The conditions at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night felt more like a November day near Thanksgiving as opposed to the opening 2022 contest between the Cubs and White Sox.

But with a 3-1 victory, the 45-degree game-time temperature, steady rain and swirling 23 mph wind felt a little balmier for the visiting White Sox. Tuesday’s effort, coupled with Monday’s victory over the Angels, gave the White Sox (10-13) back-to-back wins for the first time since April 15-16 at home against the Rays.

“Hopefully we are heading in the right direction,” said White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, who hit his fourth home run in the third inning off Keegan Thompson. “We can keep building and keep enjoying the game and keep having fun, and hopefully that brings more wins.”

Wins have been plentiful for the White Sox over the last two years in the Crosstown Cup. In fact, manager Tony La Russa improved to 6-1 against the Cubs since beginning his second stint with the White Sox, including 4-0 at Wrigley Field.

Although the White Sox are 4-11 over their past 15 games, they have an impressive 11-1 ledger over their past 12 Interleague games. So two games against the Cubs might be what the team needed before traveling to Boston for the weekend.

Then again, Tuesday’s conditions made it tough to judge anything from a pitching, hitting or defensive standpoint.

“I don't think I can give enough credit to the two teams,” La Russa said. “There wasn't one guy that was backing off from competing. It was really amazing to see. And it was hard out there for hitters, defenders, pitchers.”

“Wind was just changing direction every inning,” White Sox starting pitcher Michael Kopech said. “It can be frustrating, but the elements are part of the game. Sometimes they work with you, sometimes they work against you. Today, I felt like I was able to work with them for the most part."

Kopech struck out five and walked two over four-plus scoreless innings before giving way to Reynaldo López, who improved to 3-0 overall. He has allowed two runs or fewer in all nine of his starts since the beginning of the 2021 season and has a 1.46 ERA during that stretch.

For the season, Kopech has a 1.17 ERA in five starts, with 23 strikeouts over 23 innings. The White Sox are managing his innings during this first full year as a starter, so a 14-pitch walk issued to Alfonso Rivas in the third helped drive up his pitch count to 83 and knock him out a little early.

“That's the conversation, right?” said Kopech of a big-picture view of his season. “I want to be healthy at the end of the year and able to go six, seven, eight or whatever in July, August, September, hopefully October. I completely understand, but I'm still in the position where I want to do it now. I want it do it in May, I want to do it in June, I want to do it in July.

“I just want to give the best performance I can for my team every time I take the mound. And today could have been that. But I understand that I've had some high pitch counts in earlier innings that kept me from being able to do that too. So I've got to be more efficient."

Anderson’s opposite-field home run on Thompson’s first pitch of the third might have been the most startling feat of the night, considering this game wasn’t exactly conducive for the long drive. But the 399-foot blast with an xBA of .670, per Statcast, went the distance.

“Yeah, I just hit it at the right time and with the right wind. It carried out. But I’ll take it for sure,” said Anderson, who laughed and added he doesn’t care if his power is underrated. “My job is to get to first and that’s why they got the rest of the guys to drive me in. It just comes and goes whenever it wants I guess.”

A forecast of 45 degrees for Wednesday doesn’t exactly indicate spring is on the way to Wrigley. But no rain is in the forecast, so it’s a step in the right direction. The White Sox don’t really seem to care as long as they keep winning.

“It was one of those games up there … toughest weather I probably played in,” Anderson said. “But good thing we got the win and we were able to finish it.”