CHICAGO (AP) — Michael Kopech almost nailed the batter with the game’s first pitch. After that, he was just about perfect.
Kopech gave up one hit over a career-high eight innings, and the Chicago White Sox beat the Kansas City Royals 2-0 on Friday night.
Kopech simply toyed with the Royals as the White Sox opened a weekend series between teams with two of the majors’ worst records on a winning note. The hard-throwing right-hander struck out a season-high 10 on 98 pitches, and bounced back from a loss to Houston and won for the second time in three starts.
Kopech (2-4) nearly hit Bobby Witt Jr. in the head with the game’s first pitch, but got him to ground out on a 3-1 fastball. He retired the the first 16 batters before giving up a bloop single to Michael Massey, who was erased on a double play. Massey also broke up a no-hit bid by the Padres’ Michael Wacha on Monday at San Diego when he lined a single leading off the eighth.
“I knew that it was in the works,” Kopech said. “I wasn’t really focused on it. And fortunately, (after) that happened, I was able to go right back to work because I wasn’t focused on it. I missed my location, he got a hit. That’s part of the game.”
The Royals did not get another runner. Kopech lobbied to go the distance after breezing through the eighth.
Manager Pedro Grifol said he would have kept him in if the no-hitter was intact. Instead, Kendall Graveman worked the ninth for his third save, getting Jackie Bradley Jr. on a fly to deep center to end the game.
“Almost just grabbed my glove and ran out there and waved off Graveman,” Kopech said. “I understand. I had a lot of rest coming up to this one but we are back on five days now and working over 100 pitches is hard to bounce back from.”
The White Sox took a 2-0 lead against Zach Greinke (1-5) in the second.
Yoán Moncada led off with a single and scored on Gavin Sheets’ base hit. Romy González drove in Andrew Vaughn with a sacrifice fly to deep center field.
Kopech made it stand, and the White Sox came away with the win after the Royals pummeled them 27-13 in taking three of four at Kansas City last week.
“With the stuff he has, he can do that any night,” catcher Seby Zavala said.
Greinke settled down after the second, allowing two runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings. The former AL Cy Young Award winner exited with a runner on second.
Jackson Kowar walked Vaughn and Sheets to load the bases before retiring Jake Burger on a grounder to the shortstop.
Royals: Struggling RHP Brad Keller (right shoulder impingement) was placed on the 15-day injured list and is scheduled for an MRI in Kansas City on Monday. “He’s feeling better, but wasn’t going to be able to rebound to be able to make a start,” manager Matt Quatraro said. Keller leads the majors with 40 walks in nine starts, including eight in 32/3 innings against San Diego on Monday. The Royals recalled RHP Max Castillo from Triple-A Omaha.
White Sox: Closer Liam Hendriks took another step in his comeback from cancer, throwing live batting practice, though it remains unclear when he will return to the bullpen. Manager Pedro Grifol said Hendriks threw about 20 pitches and “felt good.” But he also said several times there’s still no timetable on a return and that the organization will determine the next step. … C Yasmani Grandal (right hamstring) was out of the lineup and might be again on Saturday. Grifol said he was available to pinch hit or catch if needed. Grandal was the DH against Cleveland on Thursday after leaving Wednesday’s game.