The White Sox secured their postseason berth with today’s win, and if they play to hang around, they’re going to stay composed.
Today’s game shows they can do it. They didn’t play a perfect game. They hung some sliders, they dropped two flies, they tried to focus on breaking pitches at the expense of too many taken fastballs. But they didn’t lose their heads.
As for the Twins? Well, Josh Donaldson got ejected on his own home run in order to show up the home plate umpire, Byron Buxton was thrown out by 20 feet trying to score from first on a dropped fly by Luis Robert, and Eddie Rosario screamed his way down the first-base line after a groundout. Any of those plays could’ve been overlooked in victory, but because the White Sox stayed within striking distance all game, they collectively looked unraveled.
Donaldson’s homer should’ve been an inflection point the other way. After taking a slider just off the plate for a strike, he smoked a liner into the White Sox bullpen on an underpowered fastball that gave the Twins a 3-2 lead. As he approached the plate, he kicked dirt over it, then went back to touch the plate and cover it some more. Home plate umpire Dan Bellino ejected him immediately, and Donaldson exited to high-fives in the dugout.
Donaldson’s replacement, Ehire Adrianza, struck out in his only at-bat to start the eighth. The Twins were trailing by 1 at that time, because the White Sox struck for two runs on another play where Donaldson’s absence was detectable.
The White Sox had runners on the corners with two outs for José Abreu, as Jarrod Dyson led off with a single, survived almost getting caught off first on a lineout to right on a hit-and-run, then stole second and moved to third on Tim Anderson’s groundout. Yasmani Grandal kept the inning alive with a walk, and José Abreu came to the plate.
Rocco Baldelli went to righty-killer Sergio Romo, and on the fifth pitch, Romo got one of the preferred outcomes — a weak grounder to the left side.
Perhaps Donaldson takes charge of the play and cuts it off with a strong throw to first. But Donaldson wasn’t there, and Adrianza let Jorge Polanco play it from a deepish shortstop position. His throw was well late, Dyson scored the tying run, and Eloy Jiménez smoked a double down the left-field line that put the White Sox ahead.
The White Sox struck for two runs in a seventh inning where the Twins kept themselves off the board. Buxton, who hit a pair of solo homers on bad Reynaldo López sliders, collected his third hit with a leadoff single. A pair of fly balls should’ve kept him at first, but Robert let Ryan Jeffers’ one-outer glance off his glove. Buxton was off to the races, and that ended up working for the White Sox. Robert collected himself to start an excellent relay home, with Nick Madrigal delivering an on-target throw and Grandal picking the shorthop for the tag.
Thanks to that TOOTBLAN, the White Sox were able to absorb three homers from the Bomba Squad, because they were all of the solo variety.
The White Sox had answers for two of them. Abreu got enough of Kenta Maeda’s rolling slider for a solo shot in the fourth, and Edwin Encarnación hit another cement-mixer harder for his own blast in the fifth.
As a result, the White Sox were able to hold their own against a Cy Young candidate like Maeda, with López virtually matching him through five innings:
- Maeda: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER 0 BB, 8 K, 2 HR
- López: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 2 HR
Buxton aside, López pitched well enough for the circumstances. Rick Renteria probably shouldn’t have let him start the sixth, because the fastball Donaldson hit out was clocked at 91. Renteria recovered with good bullpen management — Codi Heuer would’ve handled the seventh and eighth had Bellino not given Nelson Cruz an extra life, and when Cruz singled on a slider to keep the latter inning alive, Alex Colomé came in to record a four-out save.
His lineup card also delivered. Encarnación shows he’s still a threat against lower velocities, and Dyson went 2-for-4 in a rare start, stealing two bases and scoring the tying run. There were enough contributions from all over to offset terrible days from Moncada (golden sombrero, twice looking) and Robert (0-for-4, two strikeouts, the error in center).
However it happened, the White Sox split the season series with the Twins. They extended their lead in the AL Central by three games, and by four in the loss column.
*MVP update: Abreu is now up to 17 homers and 51 RBIs over 50 games, while Tim Anderson went 0-for-4.
*Robert’s drop in center looked a little more defensible after Adrianza couldn’t handle a foul pop-up down the left field line — thank Donaldson for that — and McCann mishandled one near the plate.
Record: 33-17 | Box score | Statcast
(Photo by Rob Grabowski / Icon Sportswire)
I give Ricky credit for generally having the team in the right mindset. Rocco and the Twins seem a little high strung.
Before Edwin got hit by that pitch, I thought he responded to the Twins bench and said “inside” when they were yelling at the ump on where it was. It’s hard to say how much attitude and mindset play a role in winning, but I feel confident these Sox won’t have mental meltdowns. Thanks, Ricky!
This whole series the Twins have come off real hotheaded and whiny. Getting that first inside the parker overturned sucks for them, but it wasn’t a gamechanger by itself. The strike zone hasn’t been good, but it did seem consistently bad (and for both sides), at which point you just have to deal with it and adjust. Constantly throwing hissy fits over it and getting ejected did not help their case and probably did way more damage to their chances than a few bad strike calls.
I was 11 years old sitting in the last row of the 500 level for game 163 in 2008.
12 years of waiting and disappointment and misplaced hope.
The only thing that could have made today better would have been being there in person again. But that’s a minor gripe. You celebrate each playoff berth you get because you don’t know when the next one is going to be.
Feels good to have October baseball to watch. Go Sox!
Don’t stop now boys!
Twelve absolutely long and in many cases grueling years for the postseason again. I don’t care if it’s pandemic shortened or whatever, the pandemic didn’t suddenly make our guys start hitting and pitching at levels we’ve been waiting for for ages. We are in we are finally in! I won’t take that for granted and I sure hope, no I KNOW, this team won’t either.
Don’t stop now boys.
Win! Wow, I can’t believe they are going to the playoffs for the first time in 12 years – and only 2 weeks after I moved back to Chicago! And of course no tickets for fans this time around.
I think it was the 08 run that actually led me to SSS, so almost full circle here now. Don’t stop now boys! Unwind the curse the North Side inflicted upon the world when they won 4 years ago!
I attended my first game on a warm July night in 1960 , a baseball enthralled 11year old. I have attende 100s Sox of games since that date including every home game in 2005. The most intense dramatic game I ever witnessed was the 08 win against the Twins to win the division. This game today rivaled that one in its intensity. I like so many thousands Sox fans would have been there today if possible. I only hope that all the younger fans have the joy of attendance in the years and decades ahead to watch our Sox succeed with the drama that marked this game. A victory like this one is bliss to any die hard baseball fan because it can wash away not only the agony of insufferable bad baseball but also lift your spirits in trying times such as this one. It is why baseball fans are baseball fans .
Will the 2020 rule changes be carried into the playoffs? I assume the NL DH will remain, but what about the extra innings change?
The extra inning rules will not apply in the playoffs.
I grew up 29 miles from Comiskey in NW Indiana and first became a fan of the White Sox when they were Winning Ugly (TM). Now living in Southern California, I was able to attend the clinching game of the ALCS in Anaheim in 2005. Hoping I have a chance to attend another White Sox playoff game this year, and thrilled that I’ll be able to watch some playoff games even if it’s not possible to attend them.
Unrelated to the playoff-cinching joy, I saw that our almost friend Luis Basabe got his first major league hit today. And his first two walks, and his first steal, and his first two runs scored. Quite a day for him. I wish him well.
He might also be in his first post-season as the Giants are surprisingly above .500
sounds like he’s already having a better season than Mazara
What im most happy about with all this is they did not get in at .500 using the extra extra wildcard or something. They took the season by the neck and clinched early. Now lets see them finish it and take the division!
Hopefully, this was just a funky day for Moncada because he looked eerily similar to his 2018 version. One of the ugliest ABs I’ve ever seen (Fastball middle middle looking, slider in the dirt swinging, fastball middle middle looking, grab some bench). Thank god Eloy is still delivering the goods when Moncada and Robert slumping.
Magic number to win the division is 7 with 10 games to go
Bad news: DJ LaMahieu pulled ahead of Tim for the batting title. DJ: .373 / Tim: .365