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Michael Kopech exits in 1st inning of loss to Texas Rangers, but could return to Chicago White Sox next weekend

Michael Kopech exits in 1st inning of loss to Texas Rangers, but could return to Chicago White Sox next weekend
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Michael Kopech came off the mound after throwing a pitch to Adolis García in the first inning Sunday at the guaranteed rate field.

The right-hander had a chat with the Chicago White Sox coaching staff and returned to the mound to prepare for a warm-up pitch. He stopped just as he was starting, walked behind the mound and threw the ball to the ground in frustration.

Kopech came out with right knee discomfort, an early hit for the Sox in an 8-6 12-inning loss to the Texas Rangers in front of 31,096.

Kopech left after two-thirds of an inning, throwing just 13 pitches. But the Sox hope Kopech will be available in about a week.

“I felt a pinch, pinch or pop or whatever you want to call it,” Kopech said. “I felt like I couldn’t get over it. Looks like it was worse than it was. We’ll take it day by day, but it looks like I may be back there soon. I’m excited with the news.

“There is liquid there and we will 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 learn it wasn’t a more serious injury.

“But on a day like (Sunday), the bullpen was already taxed,” he said. “Playing one of the longest games of the year. It would have been nice if something like that didn’t happen.”

Johnny Cueto was among the pitchers to step in after Kopech.

The right-hander was due to start Monday in Detroit, a role that will now fall to Lance Lynn. Cueto entered the third for his second career relief appearance, following Reynaldo López’s scoreless 1⅓ innings.

Sox manager Tony La Russa said Cueto volunteered to pitch.

“It’s his reputation,” La Russa said. “A player.”

Cueto, who said he threw about 45 pitches in a bullpen session Saturday, allowed three runs on six hits with four strikeouts and one walk on five innings.

“I knew the situation with our pitching team, and then I went over there and said (to La Russa) that I’m ready to pitch two or three innings,” Cueto said through a interpreter. “It’s definitely different. I was not ready to pitch (Sunday). I was ready to pitch (Monday). (Sunday) I was just doing my business in the pool, sauna. I’m just getting ready for (Monday). And then it happened. You just have to go out there and do your best.

“I didn’t even stretch (on Sunday). I was just here and I got out and did what I did. I was ready to pitch (Monday). I haven’t had the opportunity to study them, nothing. I just went over there and did what I did.

Kopech said Cueto’s 77-shot output was “really admirable.”

“Bold, to say the least,” Kopech said. “He threw a bullpen (Saturday). I don’t think anyone expected him to be there. And to go five, what he covered on a day when you’re not supposed to pitch is impressive. I thought maybe we saw some other guys that we don’t see. Everyone pulls in the right direction. It just didn’t work our way.

The Sox tied the game at 3 with a two-run single from Andrew Vaughn in the seventh.

Ezequiel Duran’s three-run homer against Jose Ruiz in the 11th gave the Rangers a 6-3 lead, but the Sox responded with three runs late in the inning. Seby Zavala had a sacrificed fly and Danny Mendick launched a run with a triple. Rangers outfielders Charlie Culberson and Eli White collided on the play.

AJ Pollock followed with a bloop single, scoring Mendick to tie the game.

Rangers took the lead for good in the 12th on Jonah Heim’s two-run single on the right against Matt Foster, who threw for the fourth time in five days. La Russa said closer Liam Hendriks was “unavailable” on Sunday.

“He should be available (Monday),” La Russa said.

The match had an unusual end when Luis Robert tried to reach third after Jake Burger flew to the left.

“It was a mistake,” La Russa said. “You know I like aggression, but it wasn’t a good game.”

The series got off to a promising start for the Sox, who won 8-3 on Friday after scoring five runs in the eighth inning. But they dropped the the last two in the series, both in extra innings.

“It’s a really disappointing game to lose because we did so much to overcome Kopech’s two-thirds, starting with López and Johnny,” La Russa said. “It’s a game we have to win. I have to find a way to win this thing. Did a lot of good things, didn’t do enough.

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