One day after busting out for 11 runs, the White Sox offense was quieted by a stellar performance from Shohei Ohtani, and effective outings from the Angels bullpen. The Sox lost 4-1, but no one notched an RBI since Luis Robert scored the lone run on a wild pitch from Ryan Tepera. With the loss, the White Sox dropped the season series to the Angels. Next, they head to NorCal for an interleague series with the Giants.
SHOHEI OHTANI SHUTS DOWN SOX OFFENSE
Ohtani is probably the most exciting player in the game today, not only because he pitches and he hits regularly, but because he does both at an elite level. He took the mound for Wednesday’s series finally, and lived up to his status as the league’s reigning MVP. Ohtani managed to throw first pitch strikes consistently, and he did it with a variety of pitches. He used both his big hook of a curve which breaks 66.7 inches vertically on average, and his slider which breaks 13.5 inches horizontally on average. For context, those pitches break 3.8 inches more than the league average, and 7.4 inches more than average, respectively. That set batters up to fail on his splitter, which held opponents to just a .137 average coming into tonight’s game. When his night was done, Ohtani held the Sox scoreless, gave up five hits and struck out 11 batters. But the White Sox were able to grind out some longer at-bats, drive up his pitch count, and drive him out of the game part way through the sixth inning.
MICHAEL KOPECH SETTLES AFTER BUMPY FIRST INNING
Early on it looked like it may be a long night for Michael Kopech. He allowed the first three Angels batters to reach base, then botched an opportunity for a double play by failing to corral a throw from Tim Anderson. That spotted the Halos an early 2-0 lead, which is a significant deficit with Shohei Ohtani starting for Anaheim. After that first frame, however, Kopech settled in and only allowed two more baserunners over the next four innings. Kopech had solid stuff with his slider, and just ok velocity with his fastball, but he managed to change opposing batters’ eye levels throughout at-bats by alternating between high strikes and low balls, and that kept the Angels off balance. He ran out of steam in the sixth inning, however, and gave up another two runs on a Jared Walsh single and a Luis Rengifo home run. Despite the disappointing box score, Kopech did an admirable job weathering the early trouble to limit the burden on the bullpen.
THREE MORE HITS FOR JOSÉ ABREU
Most of the White Sox batters were held in check on Wednesday, but Abreu managed to put together a sterling night at the plate, again. Abreu was the one man who was able to get to Ohtani regularly, collecting three hits off of him, and another off of Ryan Tepera. That gave him at least three hits in back-to-back nights, extended his hitting streak to five games, and gave him 16 hits in the last nine games. Abreu is one of several White Sox hitters who has started to heat up over the last couple of weeks, but for whatever reason the team can’t seem to string those hits together for big innings, consistently. The White Sox have now scored four or fewer runs in six of their last seven games.