In battle of aces, Ohtani outduels Kopech as Sox lose 4-1

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • After already winning big games against the Yankees and Dodgers this season, White Sox starter Michael Kopech was on the big stage again Wednesday night against Shohei Ohtani and the Angels.

    After already winning big games against the Yankees and Dodgers this season, White Sox starter Michael Kopech was on the big stage again Wednesday night against Shohei Ohtani and the Angels. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 6/30/2022 12:09 AM

Michael Kopech is still developing as a starting pitcher, but he's already shown he can step up on the big stage.

In a May 22 game against the powerhouse Yankees, Kopech allowed only 1 hit over 6 scoreless innings in the White Sox's 5-0 win.

 

"I try to prove something to myself every time I go out there and if that portrays itself as rising to the occasion, that's because I'm doing it for myself," he said. "I think I've been very fortunate to have that be the truth so far. I'm happy with the results that I've had. I'm very fortunate that's the case."

On Wednesday night at Angel Stadium, the lights were bright again as Kopech matched up with two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani, last year's American League MVP.

The Angels held on for a 4-1 win.

In addition to coming into the game with a .268/.351/.511 hitting line with 17 home runs and 49 RBI, Ohtani was also faring very well as a pitcher.

The starter/right fielder took the mound against the Sox having allowed just 1 earned run on 9 hits over 21 innings in his last three starts.

Kopech, who followed up his gem against the Yankees with 6 shutout innings in a 4-0 win over the Dodgers on June 7, is still trying to get back in the flow after injuring his right knee in a June 12 outing vs. the Rangers.

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Like Ohtani, Kopech labored in the first inning Wednesday and gave up 2 runs while throwing 27 pitches.

Mike Trout put the Angels in front with an RBI double and he came around to score on a Kopech error.

Ohtani struck out the side in the first inning, but Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu each singled and the right-hander had to throw 25 pitches.

Kopech and Ohtani both settled in after the opening inning, and the anticipated pitcher's duel became a reality.

After the early damage, Kopech held Los Angeles scoreless through the next four innings before giving up 2 runs in the sixth.

Ohtani escaped trouble in the first inning and again in the fourth, when Luis Robert led off with a single and Abreu followed with another single.

Gavin Sheets flied out, AJ Pollock struck out and Leury Garcia worked a walk to load the bases after making Ohtani throw 9 pitches.

Josh Harrison followed Garcia and struck out swinging to end the threat.

Ohtani threw 5⅔ scoreless innings and had 11 strikeouts while throwing 108 pitches.

Despite leading the White Sox with a .307 batting average, Andrew Vaughn is in a 2-for-23 slump. The outfielder took a seat Wednesday and he'll catch another break with Thursday's off day to recover from leg soreness.

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