Kansas City, Mo. Even if the White Sox bullpen were to hit the level it expected to go into the season, it’s reasonable to assume that general manager Rick Hahn is looking around for an upgrade.
The bullpen was good enough to win a non-threatening division but in the post season more lockdown relievers are needed to get the ball closer to Liam Hendriks.
It’s not quite up to the standards we started with, no, acknowledged assistant pitching coach Curt Hasler, who oversees the pen. But listen, there are still two months to go, and… [the bullpen is] led by Liam and [Michael] Kopech and Aaron Bummer, who will be there. … Ryan Burr does it better. and Codic [Heuer] keeps working and gets better. I have no hesitation in saying that this is a good group.
Maybe, but a reinforcement or maybe two under Hendriks and Kopech seems necessary, although Hendriks allows a game-tying homer to Salvador Perez in the ninth inning of a 3-2 loss in 10 innings to the Royals on Wednesday, despite doing what the Sox do paid him $54 million for four seasons. And Kopech, with such appearances as Tuesday, when he struckout the first three batters in the Royals lineup in the eighth inning, followed by a perfect eighth on Wednesday, throws like a first-class setup man.
Kopech pitched in consecutive games for the first time in his career.
I used the possible analogy of Adam Wainwright in 06, manager Tony La Russa said of Kopech, and that is exactly what he has become. He’s not just a starter-in-training; he’s gotten to where he’s one of our prime-time guys in charge.
The Royals walked away from the Sox in the 10th inning against Burr, who served an RBI-single with two outs to Michael Taylor on an 0-2 pitch after the Sox failed to get their free runner past second base. Right Scott Barlow of Royals struckout Yoan Moncada and defensive substitute Billy Hamilton and got pinch hitter Brian Goodwin after Leury Garcia walked.
After starter Lucas Giolito threw six-plus strong innings, Bummer ran into a difficult spot with no outs and delivered a heroic delivery, leaving Jorge Soler on third base, striking out Andrew Benintendi and pinch hitter Hanser Alberto to cause Hunter Dozier went out to a short stop Tim Anderson.
A miraculous escape, said La Russa.
Burr nearly escaped in the 10th. Anderson threw to catcher Seby Zavala on the ground ball from Doziers to prevent Benintendi from scoring. Zavala ran him back and needed a challenge to prove he tapped him to the ground before Benintendi sprinted home without a throw. The replay delayed the Royals celebration, but Dozier got into scoring position and set the podium for Taylor.
There are still steps to be taken for the pen. Bummer, Heuer, Burr, and Garrett Crochet have not reached comprehensive consistency. And Evan Marshall is injured and just starting to catch.
In the end, they’ll be there much more often than they won’t be, Hasler said.
Giolito (3.67 ERA) didn’t give up a hit until Ryan Overdient rolls two out for hopes in the fifth, Giolitos slip on his first step off the mound costing him an out. He gave up three doubles, two of which are probably playable. Giolito struckout seven, walked one and threw 80 pitches on a sweltering night.
Lucas was excellent, said La Russa. It’s so irritating for him to get a no decision. He deserved a win.
The Sox got two runs in the fifth against lefty Kris Bubic on Danny Mendick’s RBI single that Andrew Vaughn scored from second place. Mendick stayed in a rundown long enough for Garcia to score from third in the same game.
It just sucks because those guys were there for 10 innings in this heat, grinding it out, and I couldn’t get my job done, Hendriks said.
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