CHICAGO (AP) — Michael Kopech struck out a career-high 10 in just five innings, José Abreu homered and drove in three runs and the Chicago White Sox beat the Texas Rangers 8-4 Sunday for their season-high fourth straight win.
Kopech (2-0), making his second spot start in a week while pitching out of the bullpen, continued to impress after missing the 2019 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery and the 2020 season for personal reasons.
Kopech, who resides about 100 miles from Dallas in Tyler, Texas, overpowered Rangers hitters with his 97 mph fastball.
The 24-year-old right-hander allowed one run, on a homer by David Dahl, and four hits without allowing a walk in a career-high 87 pitches.
White Sox manager Tony La Russa came into a game with a limited number of available arms in the bullpen.
Closer Liam Hendricks and relievers Aaron Bummer and Codi Heuer were not available due to a recent heavy workload. La Russa was also without Evan Marshall, who was in Arizona for a funeral.
“He knew it and so did the relievers, we were shorthanded. So to step up and get us five innings, that’s a pressure performance over and above,” La Russa said.
Kopech filled in for ace Lucas Giolito, who cut his finger while opening a bottle. Giolito had his start pushed back to Tuesday against the Tigers.
Despite Kopech’s impressive showing, it remains unclear when Kopech will find a full-time role in the Chicago rotation.
“Michael Kopech is going to be a top-line starting pitcher, but right now it made sense to get him in condition to add more and more pitches. More importantly, the fact he has competed so well, shows he’s got good guts when he goes out there and he keeps his cool and concentration so I don’t have a crystal ball,” La Russa said.
“I use the (Adam)…