Michael Kopech dominates as Red Sox swept in doubleheader against White Sox

After an incredible stretch of success over the last two weeks, the Red Sox finally laid a clunker.

Nothing much went right for the Red Sox on Sunday at Fenway Park, where they looked sloppy, the offense couldn’t produce any more late magic and they were even dominated by one of their former prospects as they were swept in a doubleheader against the White Sox with a 5-1 loss in the nightcap. The defeats interrupted a run in which the Red Sox had won 10 of their 11 last games.

After some ugly defense and not enough hitting in a 3-2 loss in Game 1, the Red Sox’ bats continued to struggle finding life in the nightcap, thanks mostly to Michael Kopech.

Kopech, the former top Red Sox prospect who was their first-round draft pick in 2014 and later dealt to the White Sox in 2016 in the Chris Sale trade, was unbeatable over three-plus innings. After missing the 2019 and 2020 seasons due to Tommy John surgery and then sitting out during the pandemic, the White Sox have brought him back slowly early this season, but he certainly didn’t show much rust Sunday.

Kopech struck out four over three innings, relying on his overpowering fastball — which averaged 96.3 mph and topped out at 98.2 — that the Red Sox didn’t have a prayer of hitting. His first three innings were perfect before he issued a leadoff walk to Kiké Hernández and then a single to Alex Verdugo, which ended his day.

“Good fastball. Good breaking ball,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “On the mound, he was in control. I saw him in Chicago, right? He pitched against us. It’s just, his stuff is good stuff, and he knows how to use it. He goes up in the zone for chases, uses the slider down in the zone for chases. He’s a good one.”

J.D. Martinez followed Verdugo with an RBI single, but that’s all the Red Sox could do. They scored three runs over the 14-inning day, and only drew one walk in the two games.

“Coming into this series, we know that they have stuff,” Cora said. “They’re really good. I know they lost some games with the bullpen, but stuff-wise, it’s one of the toughest staffs in the big leagues. They’ve got velo and they have good secondary pitches. They were good the whole day. They were actually good yesterday, too.”

Martin Perez allowed four runs on seven hits in 3⅔ innings, including a mammoth 431-foot home run to Yermin Mercedes, to take the loss.

Though the Red Sox hit a funk on Sunday, Cora isn’t worried. The last week has been uneven with two postponements, two doubleheaders and strange game times, and he’s looking forward to getting back on schedule after Monday’s 11 a.m. Patriots’ Day game.

“We’re going to be OK,” Cora said. “We’ve got a chance to split the series tomorrow. That’s the way we see it. It’s a tough stretch. We went to Minnesota and the doubleheader, and then coming here and we have a doubleheader today, and yesterday, and tomorrow, the 11 a.m game. But it’s not an excuse. The way I see it, we have one more day to grind. And then it seems like from Tuesday on, as far as the timing of everything, it’s like the regular season. We’ve been playing a lot of day games. …

“We’ve been doing a good job, but it feels like, we’re going to start playing a lot of night games, we can reset, get back to your routine of the regular season and go from there.”

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