Kopech's 6 no-hit innings lift White Sox to win over Tigers
In his last start, Michael Kopech returned to his native Texas, took the mound against the Rangers and had one of his worst outings of the year.
"Coming back home and not doing my best stings a little bit more," Kopech said after giving up 4 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks in 3⅓ innings last Saturday. "Just have to be better."
Making his next start against the Tigers Friday night at Guaranteed Rate Field, the 26-year-old righty was better. Way better.
In the White Sox's 2-0 win over Detroit in front of 33,015, Kopech was actually brilliant over 6 no-hit innings, striking out a career-high 11.
He was lifted after throwing 85 pitches, and Javy Baez greeted reliever Reynaldo Lopez with a single leading off the seventh to end the combined no-hit bid.
Kopech argued to stay in the game, but he understood why manager Tony La Russa made the move.
"I don't know if they caught it on camera, but I was making my pitch for a few minutes there with Tony and (pitching coach) Ethan (Katz)," Kopech said. "I thought I had a pretty decent chance but they didn't want that to happen. I'm at a point in the season where I've thrown a lot more innings than I did last year so they want to rest me and make sure I'm healthy here for the next one.
"I understand, and 85 pitches in the sixth isn't going to get me through the ninth inning. I would have liked to have gone deeper, but the bullpen came in and did their job and we put some runs up and won the game and that's what matters."
Andrew Vaughn's 2-run bloop single to right field with two outs in the seventh inning decided the outcome.
"Just looking for a good pitch to hit," Vaughn said. "He (Detroit reliever Alex Lange) threw a curveball and it kind of got off my barrel. Fell in there for a hit and got us a couple of runs. It's always huge if me or any other of the eight guys in the lineup can come up with that hit.
"Tonight it was me and tomorrow hopefully we've got a new hero to come through and make something happen."
Kopech made sure nothing happened for the Tigers' offense, the main reason the Sox (57-56) are back over the .500 mark.
"I feel like that was the definition of dominant," Vaughn said. "That was unbelievable. Watching him pitch from the outfield, I could see the ball moving from there. Special what he did tonight."
La Russa knows Kopech is a special talent that is in his first full season as a major-league starter.
"He's always has the talent and the stuff," La Russa said. "He's a pitcher. He located, threw breaking balls in different counts. He had a good breaking ball. Moved his fastball around and had life. He wanted to go back out there, because he really had good command of his fastball.
"But you reach back for extra when you're tired and get to that limit, bad things happen. Very difficult. I felt it was the right thing to do. It was my decision."