A scoreless pitching duel turned disastrous once the Dodgers turned to the bullpen. AJ Pollock got the first of three run-scoring hits off David Price in the sixth inning, all with two outs, leading the White Sox to a 4-0 victory in Tuesday night’s series opener in Chicago.
Phil Bickford, who was called up earlier Tuesday when closer Craig Kimbrel landed on the paternity list, was the first reliever out of the bullpen, retiring two of his first three hitters in the sixth inning. A dribbler through the right side by José Abreu put runners on the corners, ending Bickford’s night.
In came the left-handed David Price, but instead of the lefty-batting Gavin Sheets, Tony LaRussa turned to the right-handed Pollock, who the Dodgers traded to Chicago for Kimbrel on April 1. Pollock, who entered Tuesday in a 4-for-31 (.129) slump, wasted no time, lining the first pitch from Price into the right field corner, driving home the first two runs of the game.
AJ Pollock with the pinch-hit, go-ahead double! pic.twitter.com/I0BbB5L2VW— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) June 8, 2022
Jake Burger followed with an RBI double, then after an intentional walk to Yoan Moncada, catcher Reese McGuire singled home another run.
In a matter of four pitches from Price, a scoreless tie turned into a 4-0 Dodgers deficit.
It took until the game’s 22nd batter for either side to register a hit. Will Smith singled to get the Dodgers off the schneid with two outs in the fourth inning, and even advanced to second base on a balk. That counted as a rally against Michael Kopech, who was dominant with eight strikeouts and only two baserunners allowed in his six innings, flummoxing the Dodgers with a fastball-slider combination.
Mitch White was stingy in his own right, retiring his first 12 batters faced. A leadoff single in the fifth broke up any thoughts of a perfect game, then a hit by pitch and another single changed the equation, loading the bases with one out. White was able to escape the jam thanks to a pair of strikeouts — a full-count fastball to freeze McGuire, and an 0-2 slider to get Harrison swinging.
It took 21 pitches to get through that fifth inning for White, who was pulled after 69 total pitchers and two full times through the order. White this season has faced a lineup a third time through only once, in his last start last Wednesday, allowing a walk and a home run to break a 1-1 tie against Pittsburgh.
The Dodgers will gladly take the five scoreless innings from White, with the only question is whether he stays on the roster, and for how long?
His next turn in the rotation would be Sunday in San Francisco, but the Dodgers are targeting that series finale against the Giants for Clayton Kershaw’s return from the injured list.
“I’m gearing toward Sunday,” Kershaw told reporters in Chicago on Tuesday, per Bill Plunkett at the Orange County Register. “And unless something changes, I’ll be ready to go that day.”
If White won’t start this weekend, the Dodgers’ usual move is to use the roster spot in the days in between then and now for an extra relief arm. White would need to be in the minors for 15 days unless replacing an injured player, but the Dodgers have three coming off days (June 13, June 16, June 20) such that they wouldn’t necessarily need White to start again for more than two weeks anyway.
And that’s before factoring in that Andrew Heaney will likely be ready to return by then. Heaney is set to make his second minor league rehab start for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Thursday, as he recovers from left shoulder discomfort.
White was a frequent flier last season, getting optioned 10 different times after opening day. Starting May 2 this year, there is a limit of five times a player can be optioned in any one season. White hasn’t yet been optioned this season.
Should the Dodgers elect to add a reliever, among the healthy pitchers on the 40-man roster not currently active, left-hander Garrett Cleavinger and Reyes Moronta have been on option for over the required 15 days.
Justin Turner singled off pitcher Reynalo López in the seventh inning, his 1,000th hit since joining the Dodgers. Turner is the 35th player in franchise history to reach that milestone. More on that in tomorrow morning’s Leading Off with True Blue LA podcast.
Home runs: none
WP — Michael Kopech (2-2): 6 IP, 1 hit, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts
LP — Phil Bickford (0-1): ⅔ IP, 2 hits, 2 runs
Tony Gonsolin starts the middle game of the series on Wednesday night (5:10 p.m. PT, SportsNet LA). Johnny Cueto makes his fifth start since joining the White Sox.