Michael Kopech hobbled off the mound after throwing a pitch to Adolis García in the first inning Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field.
The right-hander had a discussion with the Chicago White Sox training staff and went back on the mound to prepare for a warmup pitch. He stopped just as he was beginning, walked behind the mound and threw the ball to the ground in frustration.
Kopech exited with right knee discomfort, an early blow 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 are hopeful Kopech might be available in about a week.
“I felt a twinge, pinch or pop or whatever you want to call it,” Kopech said. “I felt like I couldn’t get on it again. It sounds like it felt worse than what it was. We’re going to take it day by day, but it’s looking like I can be back out there soon. I’m excited with the news.
“There’s some fluid back there and we’ll try to get it cleaned up. … I was frustrated. I thought it was worse than what it was, but I’m grateful for the news.”
Kopech said he was “definitely relieved” to hear it wasn’t a more serious injury.
“But a day like (Sunday), the bullpen was already taxed,” he said. Play one of the longest games all year. It would have been nice to not have something like this happen.”
Johnny Cueto was among the pitchers to step in after Kopech.
The right-hander was slated to start Monday at Detroit, a role that will now go to Lance Lynn. Cueto entered in the third for his second career relief appearance, following Reynaldo López’s 1⅓ scoreless innings.
Sox manager Tony La Russa said Cueto volunteered to pitch.
“That’s his reputation,” La Russa said. “A gamer.”
Cueto, who said he threw around 45 pitches in a bullpen session Saturday, allowed three runs on six hits with four strikeouts and one walk in five innings.
“I knew the situation of our pitching staff and then I went there and told (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 pool, 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 just was here and I went out and did what I did. I was ready to pitch (Monday). I didn’t have a chance 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 go five, what he covered on a day when you’re not expected to pitch is impressive. I thought we might have seen some other guys we don’t see. Everyone is pulling in the right direction. It just didn’t go our way.”
The Sox tied the game at 3 with a two-run single by Andrew Vaughn in the seventh.
Ezequiel Duran’s three-run homer against Jose Ruiz on the 11th gave the Rangers a 6-3 lead, but the Sox answered with three in the bottom of the inning. Seby Zavala had a sacrifice fly and Danny Mendick drove in 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.
The Rangers took the lead for good in the 12th on Jonah Heim’s two-run single to right against Matt Foster, who pitched for the fourth time in five days. La Russa said closer Liam Hendriks was “not available” Sunday.
“He should be available (Monday),” La Russa said.
The game had an unusual ending when Luis Robert was out attempting to reach third after Jake Burger flied out to left.
“That was a mistake,” La Russa said. “You know I like aggressiveness, but that wasn’t a good play.”
The series had a promising start for the Sox, who won 8-3 Friday after scoring five runs in the eighth inning. But they dropped the final two in the series, both in extra innings.
“That’s a really disappointing game to lose because there were so many things we did to overcome Kopech’s two-thirds, starting with López and Johnny,” La Russa said. “That’s a game we have to win. Have to find a way to win that thing. Did a lot of good things, didn’t do enough.”