White Sox bounce back behind Kopech to earn split vs. Royals
One down, one up.
That's how it went for the White Sox in Friday's split doubleheader against the Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field.
And that's how it went for scuffling ace Lucas Giolito during a 6-2 loss in Game 1 and spot starter Michael Kopech during a 3-1 win in Game 2.
Kopech, who has not had a bad outing in 3 starts and 7 relief appearances since coming back from a two-year layoff, went 4 innings and allowed 1 run on 2 hits and 2 walks to go with 5 strikeouts.
"I felt like I competed well and I did the job I was supposed to do today," Kopech said.
Filling in at first base for Jose Abreu, who was injured during a collision in the opener, Andrew Vaughn sparked the offense with a 2-run homer in the nightcap.
"That was a big win for us coming off losing that first game, especially losing Pito (Abreu)," Vaughn said. "Hopefully, he's back ASAP. That guy's a huge part of our team and a huge part of our vision. I played through college and the first part of my professional career at first base.
"I do feel comfortable there. Unfortunately, I had to play there tonight with Pito out, which we never want to have happen."
In 2022, Kopech is undoubtedly going to be in the White Sox's rotation from the beginning of the season until the end.
But after opting out last year and missing the 2019 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, the 25-year-old pitcher is happy doing whatever is needed.
"I think the long-term goal for me is to get back into the starting rotation and get comfortable doing a five-day routine," said Kopech, who has a sparkling 1.71 ERA over 26⅓ innings this season. "But right now, I'm going to pitch whenever (manager) Tony (La Russa) wants me to pitch and do my job every time I go out there.
"It's been working. I've had a couple outings where I didn't feel super sharp, but I'm still getting pretty good results, so I can't really complain about that."
In Game 1, Giolito only gave up 5 hits over 6 innings, but 2 of them were Royals homers that accounted for 5 runs.
"Not great," Giolito said. "I mean, I gave up 5 runs. We had a nice winning streak, now it's over. I thought I threw the ball well, but you know, 3-run homer, 2-run homer, it's not good."
Giolito allowed just a run in his previous start, at Kansas City Sunday, but he lasted only 5 innings and threw 93 pitches.
For the season, he's a disappointing 2-4 with a 4.97 ERA.
"I just need to stay focused on my process," Giolito said. "I'm doing everything in my power to prepare. I'm going into these games very confident, and that's all I can do. Control what I can control. We found a mechanical adjustment earlier this week that works for me. I carried that into the game, I felt pretty good, but the results weren't good. So that (stinks)."