Athletics 5, White Sox 3: Late rallies alter bullpen for Game 3

If the White Sox lineup lived up to expectations against a left-handed starter in Game 1, Chris Bassitt lived up to expectations against the White Sox’s righty-heavy lineup in Game 2. A strange decision by Bob Melvin then shredded the entire plot.

Bassitt departed after Tim Anderson’s leadoff single in the eighth, but with a 5-0 lead, Melvin went to closer Liam Hendriks with no backup. Hendriks ended up facing 10 hitters and throwing 49 pitches, and he didn’t even get the job done. He left the bases loaded with the go-ahead run at the plate for Jake Diekman, who ended up nailing down the save, but not before walking in a run himself.

The White Sox weren’t able to end the series after two games, but at least they were able to compromise Oakland’s potential pitching plans for Game 3. Hendriks probably isn’t available, and Diekman has thrown in both games.

It should’ve been way easier for Melvin. Bassitt took advantage of an early cushion to throw seven shutout innings, stretching his scoreless streak against the team that raised him to 20. He should’ve been able to avenge the White Sox’s relatively relaxed victory with one for Oakland.

But Hendriks made a mess of things. He ended Bassitt’s scoreless streak by serving up another eighth-inning blast to Yasmani Grandal, followed by a single to José Abreu. Nomar Mazara should have drawn a walk to bring the tying run to the plate, but Mike Muchlinski called a 3-2 fastball two inches inside a strike to ring up Mazara, and Luis Robert’s foul tip stuck in Sean Murphy’s mitt to end the threat.

Hendriks stayed in and struck out the first two batters he faced, including another questionable backwards K of Jarrod Dyson that had the White Sox dugout barking. Nick Madrigal, who had a miserable game in other respects, kept the game alive with a two-out single, followed by a base hit by Tim Anderson. Yoán Moncada, who was the first batter to face Hendriks, rallied from a strikeout the first time by drawing a walk to load the bases, and that’s when Melvin decided he’d seen enough.

He turned to Diekman to turn around Grandal. That didn’t work, because Grandal drew a walk that made it a 5-3 game and brought Abreu to the plate. That at-bat had less drama, as Abreu couldn’t elevate his inside-out swing on a first-pitch fastball, and his 96-mph two-hopper found Nate Orf at second for a game-ending groundout.

It was an admirable rally, but the White Sox dug too deep a hole. The middle infield put a couple runs on Dallas Keuchel’s tab in the first, as Anderson couldn’t convert one tough grounder to his left into a third out. That infield single loaded the bases, and two runs came home when Madrigal got eaten up by a hop off the lip on Matt Olson’s otherwise routine grounder.

The other innings were on Keuchel, who lived too high in the zone. Sean Murphy almost homered off Keuchel with one out in the second, but the fly over the left-field pole was called foul and held up under the review. He returned to the batter’s box and settled for a single, and allowed Marcus Semien to make up for it with his own two-run blast for a 4-0 Oakland lead.

Khris Davis then put the fifth run — third earned — on Keuchel’s line with a leadoff homer in the fourth. Keuchel struck out Stephen Piscotty, but with a couple righties coming around, Rick Renteria went to the bullpen.

The bullpen kept the White Sox in the game, with a stout 2⅔ innings from Jimmy Cordero leading the way. Dylan Cease threw a scoreless seventh, and when the game drew closer, Codi Heuer came in to handle the eighth. Alex Colomé was seen warming during the White Sox’s final rally.

The White Sox were just a little too late getting on the board, and Madrigal spoiled their first best chance at scoring. He led off the third with a single, then took off for second as Anderson singled to right. He didn’t pick up the ball as he slid into second, and he didn’t pick up his third-base coach, either. He actually retreated back to first a little bit before realizing what happened, but he didn’t make it to third, and when Mark Canha made a leaping catch at the wall to take extra bases away from Moncada, no run crossed the plate.

Bullet points:

*Madrigal committed a second error by throwing wide to first after tagging a runner near second base on an attempted 4-3 double play. His actions look frenetic more than fast.

*Renteria pinch-hit Zack Collins for Leury García with one out and two on in the seventh and the Sox trailing 5-0. There were no other choices for left-handed power, but perhaps the solution wasn’t a guy who hadn’t been trusted to get at-bats during the regular season.

*Mazara replaced Edwin Encarnación and had two good plate appearances, even if one ended in the bogus strikeout.

Here’s the postgame show.

Series: Tied at 1 | Box score | Statcast

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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Shingos Cheeseburgers

After 120 seasons we finally get to see the Sox in their first win and advance or go home postseason game!

Shingos Cheeseburgers

Also they get to play in actual October baseball


I still like our chances tomorrow.

LuBob DuRob

Hey, more like Mike Much-miss-ki… am I right?
It is going to be very interesting to see the pitching choices and lineups for tomorrow.


If the A’s start a righty, I find myself in favor of DH Nomar Mazara. Edwin is done.


Eloy even at 90% is the play

Shingos Cheeseburgers

In the most literal sense as long as Eloy is at 50.4% or greater he’s better than Edwin based on wRC+.


If it’s a righty, and I’m sure it will be, then Eloy DHs, Mazara in right, Engel in left. Leury is lost against righties.

Trooper Galactus

I think Leury is lost against basically any pitcher right now. Being on the shelf for a month or so will do that to a guy.


Mazara looked good today. I did not dread his final at-bat.


Oakland’s issues against velocity once the bullpen got involved lead me to make a modest suggestion for tomorrow’s game:

Start Garrett Crochet.

Give him 60-70 pitches. See how far he gets. The A’s barely have a scouting report on him, other than he hits triple digits consistently. Then piece together the rest of the game with a combination that includes Bummer, Heuer, and maybe another inning from Cease.

It’s a gamble, but any starter the Sox use tomorrow is a gamble. This one has a real chance to hurt a lineup that had been struggling until this afternoon.


I think we should do a bullpen game:



I was thinking something similar. Maybe try to get him through the lineup once.

Trooper Galactus

60-70 pitches might be a bit much, but I could see one time through the order then assess from there, so maybe 40-50 pitches.

As Cirensica

I agree. I think Renteria should use an opener-style game strategy. Even if he starts Dunning, have him on a very short leash. Treat him like a reliever in the 8th. Leave Rodon for last in case the games goes extra-innings and he needs a long reliever.


Considering how the A’s are a very patient team with a lot of batters good at drawing walks, maybe pumping the zone with 100mph fastballs is the way to go. They sure as hell know how to punish high 80s stuff in the zone.


Madrigal was absolutely terrible. I love his at bats and his ability to make contact but he was touted as an “all around baseball player”. Supposed to be gold glove defense and heads up base running. He’s giving away whatever value is in his singles profile with boneheaded plays. He made the same mistake on a grounder in Cleveland.


I wouldn’t bash him too much. He’s a rookie player with barely a season and a half pro career already playing playoff do-or-die baseball in his first major league season. These kinks will be ironed out.

As Cirensica

I say let Yolmer play in decisive games and leave the “ironing out” for next year during the season. It hurts my eyes seeing how Madrigal botches routine plays and runs the bases as if he has no idea what he is supposed to go. I mean, a winner-takes-it-all game is not the right moment to let rookies iron-out skills.

Trooper Galactus

The sub-headline should read: “Zack Collins batted”.

As Cirensica

And “batted” being an euphemism.


Off topic, in case anyone wonders what minor leaguers are doing, I just got a pic of Kyle Kubat catching with my 16 year old son at bat. Kubat is coaching a local travel team and when their catcher hurt his thumb during a mid week scrimmage, Kubat geared up and caught.


The Sox having a white midget, and that guy being both sort of an adventure in the field and completely lacking in base running instincts was a scenario my brain was in no way prepared for. He’s sliding into second seemingly unaware the ball was hit, perhaps it was drowned out by the roar of the 79 people in attendance. Then after he slides, his eyes whip around seemingly everywhere except the guy standing by 3rd whose job it is to point at what base to run to. Felt like I was losing my mind.