The Charlotte Knights had a quiet night, until the top fourth inning when there was a little bit of drama and the benches cleared. The Knights offense responded in the bottom half of the frame by putting six runs on the scoreboard. Between the rally and Michael Kopech’s strong start, the Knights would open their series against the Louisville Bats with a 9-4 win.
One aspect of Michael Kopech‘s game that he needed to work on this season was the ability to develop and locate his off-speed pitches. Tonight, he showed that he has been able to continually develop his off-speed in what has now been an impressive seven straight starts for the White Sox prized pitching prospect.
When he took the mound in the top of the first, he quickly struck out the side and left the Louisville Bats hitters clueless at the plate. Two of the strikeouts came on 80-82 mph breaking balls that left Josh VanMeter and Gabriel Guerrero in a daze after they tried timing his fastball just before that.
Michael Kopech would continue to rely on his off-speed throughout his entire outing. He had no trouble locating his pitches and he kept Louisville off-balance all night long. When you pair that success with an upper-90s fastball, you would expect Michael Kopech to pile up the strikeouts, which he easily did, picking up nine of them tonight.
With the variety of swings and misses on his off-speed tonight, Michael Kopech would use his fastball to his advantage as well. When he had a matchup against someone who was struggling to catch up to his fastball, he would proceed to blow it by them with ease.
With all of the positive developments and takeaways from Michael Kopech‘s start tonight, there was a little bump in the road. In the top of the fourth, Kopech drilled Brian O’Grady with a fastball. The benches would clear and words were exchanged, but it was nothing more than that. Michael Kopech would be back on the mound when play resumed, and he responded by picking off O’Grady at first-base and getting a strikeout to end the inning.
In the sixth inning, which was Kopech’s last frame on the mound, he would get into a bit of a jam. After giving up three consecutive singles, the Bats had the bases loaded with only one out. Michael Kopech would get out of the jam by picking up his ninth strikeout of the night and getting a weak grounder to second-base to end the inning.
Final Line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, (W)
The Knights were held scoreless until after the benches cleared in the fourth. When it was their turn to bat in the inning, they rallied behind Kopech by lighting up the scoreboard for six runs. The scoring got started with back-to-back jacks by Matt Skole and Jose Rondon. Trayce Thompson and Eddy Alvarez would both go deep too as the Knights offense put Michael Kopech in a great position to get the win with a five run cushion.
The Louisville Bats would battle back, but the Knights continued to pour on the runs as they scored three more in the bottom of the eighth, wrapping things up in a 9-4 win. This was a much needed win for the Knights who had lost their previous four games heading into tonight.
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