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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Mark Gonzales

Michael Kopech strikes out 11 in six hitless innings in White Sox’ victory vs. Tigers

Michael Kopech didn’t allow a hit in six innings Friday against the Tigers. He struck out 11 and walked three. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

There have been no questions about right-hander Michael Kopech’s determination as the White Sox try to navigate his first full season as a starter.

Kopech’s potential as a long-term member of the Sox’ rotation looks promising, based on his performance Friday in which he struck out 11 and didn’t allow a hit through six innings against the Tigers.

But Kopech wasn’t allowed the opportunity to extend his no-hit bid, even as the Sox attempt to reel in the Guardians and Twins in the American League Central.

Javy Baez ended the no-hit bid with a single against reliever Reynaldo Lopez to start the seventh, but Andrew Vaughn came through with a two-run single with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the inning to vault the Sox to a 2-0 victory.

Brief chants of ‘‘Fire Tony’’ surfaced after Baez’s single in the wake of Sox manager Tony La Russa’s decision to pull Kopech after 85 pitches.

La Russa admitted he pondered keeping Kopech in the game but thought the long-term considerations weighed more heavily.

‘‘That’s as far as he should have gone for this game, [taking into account] the rest the year, the rest of his career,’’ said La Russa, who was mindful that Kopech is scheduled to pitch Wednesday against the AL West-leading Astros. ‘‘But if you think I’m old-school, I’m really new-school. I would change the definition of a win. If we win the game, he’s got to get the win.’’

The Sox (57-56) are in a midst of playing 21 games in 20 days with more than two weeks left, and Kopech (104‰) surpassed the century mark in innings pitched for the first time since 2018 (140‰). That was before he had Tommy John surgery.

Kopech lost his case to pitch another inning but understood La Russa’s reasoning. He also said his work between starts is monitored closely.

‘‘It’s based on how I feel,’’ Kopech said. ‘‘I was dragging quite a bit between my last two starts, so I threw a shorter one this past sideline [session]. But it hasn’t been anything.

‘‘We don’t have a set number or mandatory amount or no throwing or anything like that. It’s just been communication, and we continue to do that. I think we are in a good spot.’’

The Sox, however, lost center fielder Luis Robert to a sprained left hand suffered on an unsuccessful stolen-base attempt in the sixth. X-rays taken after the game were negative, and Robert is listed as day-to-day.

Thanks to Vaughn and Lopez, the Sox had enough resources to win.

Lopez struck out Jeimer Candelario, ending an eight-pitch showdown and stranding Baez at third to end the seventh.

But it figured in this goofy Sox season that Kopech left with no run support. The offense was blanked for 4‰ innings by left-hander Daniel Norris, who was released by the Cubs on July 23 and had a 6.90 ERA entering play.

Jason Foley relieved Norris after AJ Pollock hit a double and raised the frustration of Sox fans by inducing Vaughn to ground to short.

Before the game, La Russa addressed the issue of his players’ hustling, which seems to waver at times with them coping with injuries.

‘‘I thought last year we were not very good,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘I think this year we went through this [period of time] when we had at least four guys with leg injuries that were good enough to play, [provided] we didn’t push it. I know all of a sudden it gets magnified [when Robert hesitated before running to first Thursday].

‘‘It deserves to be mentioned; he did it. But if you take his body of work, that’s not how he plays.’’ 

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