Michael Kopech limped off the mound after throwing a pitch to Adolis García in Sunday’s first inning at guaranteed rate field.
The right-hander had a discussion with the Chicago White Sox coaching staff and headed back up the mound to prepare for a warm-up pitch. He stopped just as he started, went behind the mound and threw the ball down in frustration.
Kopech retired with right knee discomfort, an early blow for the Sox in an 8-6 12-inning loss to the Texas Rangers by 31,096.
Kopech walked two-thirds of an inning and threw just 13 pitches. But the Sox are hoping Kopech could be available in about a week.
“I felt a stinging, pinching or popping or whatever you want to call it,” Kopech said. “I felt like I couldn’t go on anymore. It sounds like it felt worse than it was. We’ll take it day by day, but it looks like I might be out there again soon. I’m excited about the news.
“There’s some liquid back there and we’re going to try to clean it up. … I was frustrated. I thought it was worse than it was, but I’m grateful for the news.”
Kopech said he was “definitely relieved” to hear the injury wasn’t a more serious one.
“But on a day like (Sunday) the bullpen was already taxed,” he said. “Play one of the longest games of the year. It would have been nice if that hadn’t happened.”
Johnny Cueto was among the pitchers assigned to fill in after Kopech.
The right-hander was due to start in Detroit on Monday, a role that will now go to Lance Lynn. After Reynaldo López’s scoreless innings from Reynaldo López, Cueto started third for his second appearance of his career.
Sox manager Tony La Russa said Cueto volunteered to pitch.
“That’s his reputation,” La Russa said. “A player.”
Cueto, who said he threw around 45 pitches in a bullpen session Saturday, allowed three runs with six hits with four strikeouts and a walk in five innings.
“I knew the situation of our pitching team and then I went there and said (La Russa) I’m ready to pitch two or three innings,” Cueto said through an interpreter. “It’s definitely different. I wasn’t ready to pitch (Sunday). I was ready to pitch (Monday). (Sunday), I was just doing my things in the swimming pool, in the sauna. Just getting ready for (Monday). And then this happened. You just have to go there and do your best.
“I didn’t even stretch (Sunday). I was just here and went out and did what I did. I was ready to pitch (Monday). I had no opportunity to study them, nothing. I just went out there and did what I did.”
Kopech said Cueto’s 77-pitch outing was “really admirable.”
“Bold to say the least,” Kopech said. “He threw a bullpen (Saturday). I don’t think anyone expected him to be out there. And to hit five, which he covered in a day you’re not expected to serve, is impressive. I thought we might have seen some other guys that we don’t see. All are moving in the right direction. It just wasn’t going our way.”
The Sox tied the game to 3 points with a two-run single by Andrew Vaughn in the seventh.
Ezequiel Duran’s three-run homer on José Ruiz in the 11th gave the Rangers a 6-3 lead, but the Sox responded with three late in the inning. Seby Zavala had a sacrificial fly and Danny Mendick drove a three in one run. Rangers outfielders Charlie Culberson and Eli White collided during the game.
AJ Pollock followed with a bloop single and scored Mendick for the tie.
Rangers finally took the lead in 12th on Jonah Heim’s single with two runs to the right against Matt Foster, who fielded for the fourth time in five days. La Russa said Liam Hendriks was “unavailable” on Sunday.
“He should be available (Monday),” La Russa said.
The game had an unusual ending as Luis Robert tried to get into third place after Jake Burger flew out to the left.
“That was a mistake,” said La Russa. “You know I like aggressiveness, but that wasn’t a good game.”
The series got off to a promising start for the Sox, who won 8-3 on Friday after hitting five runs in the eighth inning. But they dropped the last two in the series, both in extra innings.
“It’s really disappointing to lose this game because we did so many things to get past Kopech’s two-thirds, starting with López and Johnny,” La Russa said. “It’s a game we have to win. Gotta find a way to win this thing. Did a lot of good but not enough.”