Flaherty outduels Fedde, Jimenez exits with injury as Tigers sweep White Sox

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CHICAGO – In a battle of two starting pitchers making team debuts with last names that start with “F,” Jack Flaherty and the Detroit Tigers got the best of Erick Fedde and the Chicago White Sox Sunday in what amounted to a classic pitcher’s duel between the two clubs.

Fedde pitched 4.2 innings and gave up two earned runs on five hits, while also notching seven strikeouts to one walk, although the Tigers made him earn it. The right-hander tossed 96 pitches (58 strikes) before being relieved by Tanner Banks.

“I felt pretty good with my stuff today,” Fedde said postgame. “The reality of it is, I think a lot of the time I was going from 1-2 counts to 3-2 that kind of got me out of the game early. It’s something I’m frustrated with, you know? I want to go deeper for the boys.”

Fedde made his White Sox debut after being named Most Valuable Player of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) in 2023. A former first round pick of the Washington Nationals, Fedde went 20-6 with a 2.00 ERA over 180.1 innings pitched with the NC Dinos to become the first foreign-born player to win the KBO pitching triple crown.

“It was a moment of relief in a sense – Just excitement stepping back out there,” Fedde said about his return to MLB. “[I was just] happy, glad to be back. There was a lot of adrenaline and excitement for this start.”

Flaherty worked a full six innings and surrendered only one earned run on four hits, while also striking out seven batters without issuing a walk.

Going into the game, Flaherty already had the White Sox’s number. The South Siders were a combined 2-22 (.111) lifetime facing Flaherty, and after Sunday, the White Sox are now 6-44 (.136) lifetime against him.

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Game Recap

Offense was hard to come by all afternoon for the White Sox. They struggled to string together hits at the plate, and in the few instances the White Sox did, they were unable to drive them in.

The White Sox stranded runners in scoring position in each of the first three innings – Andrew Benintendi after a leadoff single in the first, Braden Shewmake after a leadoff single and a stolen base in the second, and Yoan Moncada after a one-out double in the third.

The White Sox two runs came to fruition via the solo home run — One from Korey Lee in the third and another from Paul DeJong in the seventh.

“All the adjustments that I made in the offseason are kind of correlating to what’s happening right now,” Lee said postgame. “Credit to the staff, credit to the team. I just got to keep on doing my thing and feeling comfortable and just trusting the process.”

Lee said he’s been able to slow the game down a bit and spend time working to hit his pitches, as opposed to the ones pitchers want him to hit.

“This game is fast and [I’m] just trying to be in my own zone,” Lee said. “Rather than hitting the pitcher’s pitch, [I’m] hitting my pitch, locking in on the strike zone, taking my walk when I need to do that. And then … driving the ball to the big part of the field is kind of my thought right now.”

It was a similar story at the plate for the Tigers, except they managed to string together hits when it mattered most.

Aside from solo home runs from Kerry Carpenter in the fourth and Jake Rogers in the fifth, Detroit didn’t have one opportunity with a runner in scoring position during the first eight innings of the ballgame.

Newly-acquired third baseman Gio Urshela singled to left field with one out before Zach McKinstry worked a pinch-hit, two-out walk, and Andy Ibanez singled in Matt Vierling, who pinch ran for Urshela, to take the lead, 3-2.

Gavin Sheets, who was subbed in to replace an injured Eloy Jimenez, struck out looking, then Andrew Vaughn and Shewmake skipped back-to-back grounders to shortstop and second to end the game, giving the Tigers a three-game sweep of an American league Central rival to start the year.

“Three one-run games – Could have gone either way – Didn’t go our way,” said White Sox manager Pedro Grifol postgame. “I think our pitching was excellent and our defense, we had one miscue today and we backed it up with good defense … Good pitching. Good defense. Three one-run games that we got to find a way to win.”

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Kopech dominant in relief

While some around White Sox fandom were surprised by Michael Kopech’s move to the bullpen, it’s been so far, so good for the White Sox’s big right-hander from Texas.

Kopech retired all five batters he faced Sunday, striking out three while tossing only 17 pitches – 16 of which were strikes.

He’s pitched 2.2 innings and only allowed one hit and one walk in two appearances, and his manager noticed how comfortable he’s looked out on the mound so far.

“It’s power stuff … It’s just never been about stuff [with Kopech],” Grifol said. “It’s just been about the mindset, the command. I think he threw 17 pitches [and] threw 16 strikes today … If he’s doing that, he’s going to be really tough to hit man.

“This guy’s ball explodes – He’s not afraid to use his fastball [and] it’s a different kind of fastball, and then when he mixes in that slider, he’s tough.”

Injury update

Eloy Jimenez left the game during the eighth inning Sunday with left abductor soreness, according to team medical personnel.

“He’s got an abductor strain. We’ll see tomorrow how he wakes up,” Grifol said. “They’re going to do some testing on it.”

When asked if a roster move should be expected, Grifol said the team would be prepared, but wasn’t sure if one will inevitably be made.

Up next

The Chicago White Sox welcome the Atlanta Braves to Guaranteed Rate Field for a three-game series, with first pitch for their first matchup set for 1:10 p.m. CST on Monday.

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