Game 4, originally scheduled for 2:37 p.m. today, has been pushed back to 1:07 p.m. Tuesday due to inhospitable weather. We’ll find out whether it changes any pitching plans, and we’ll discuss whether we think it should.
For now, let’s use the postponement to reflect on the figures who stood tall in a momentous Game 3 with everybody’s favorite gimmick: arbitrary rankings.
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No. 1: Leury García
“Here’s a momentum stopper,” A.J. Pierzynski said as Leury García came to the plate. After a pause, he specified that he was talking about a mound visit from Martin Maldonado to attempt to stall a White Sox fourth-inning rally that Yoán Moncada and Gavin Sheets extended with singles. García was 1-for-8 with four strikeouts in the ALDS at the time, so I feel like my confusion could’ve been pardoned.
Yet Dusty Baker saw García as a big enough threat that he swapped out his García (Luis) for another (Yimi) on a 2-0 count. I didn’t understand the move, or the confidence that was supposed to instill in the situation, and it backfired when Yimi Garcia threw three consecutive fastballs, the last of which clanked off the batter’s eye in center field for a go-ahead three-run homer.
García added an RBI double later for some welcome insurance. I was among the people who didn’t care to see him starting in right field over Adam Engel, but since he’s going to be playing either there or second base, we just have to go for the ride aboard the Leury Legend, even if the bridge across the gorge looks a little too rickety for anybody’s comfort. It certainly can’t withstand all those people jumping up and down, right?
No. 2: Cane Guy
In the last test the White Sox bullpen actually faced, Michael Kopech had a full count against Yordan Alvarez with a 3-2 count and two outs. The Fox cameras turned to a White Sox fan who was doing what he could to support Kopech with the device that supports him.
Kopech got the swinging strikeout to end the inning, White Sox relievers were perfect the rest of the way, and now we know the story of Rob Holt.
“I actually think it’s pretty funny because of how ridiculous it is that people grabbed on to this thing and ran with it,” Holt said. “But if it’s part of the festival of the playoffs, then that’s just great.”
It seems like the White Sox are going to be taking care of our man.
No. 3: Ryan Tepera/Aaron Bummer
Ryan Tepera was the one who brought order to Houston’s unruly mob, and Bummer was the one who kicked them out. Among the criticism of Tony La Russa’s Game 2 management I didn’t understand was the idea that Bummer shouldn’t have faced Houston’s righties. The Astros hit lefties, sure, but Bummer also suppresses righties with that sinker, and the White Sox aren’t going to advance without him handling full-bodied American innings, so you have to trust the talent.
Bummer didn’t care who stood where on Sunday, as he struck out Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez and Carlos Correa before getting Kyle Tucker to meekly bounce out to second. That’s what La Russa had in mind.
PERTINENT: Ryan Tepera alludes to Astros scandal after White Sox succeed away from Houston
No. 4: Tony La Russa
After a game where he made three mistakes that helped the White Sox get their fingers knocked off the cliff, every call La Russa made in Game 3 worked out. His decision to stack lefties against Luis Garcia, including Leury García in right, paid off. He gave Dylan Cease ample opportunity to get out of the second inning himself, but pulled the plug at a reasonable time to bring in Kopech. When Kopech didn’t pitch as well as everybody might’ve hoped, he went into inning-by-inning mode in the fifth, and the Astros didn’t reach the rest of the way. While pinch-hitting Andrew Vaughn for Gavin Sheets against lefty Brooks Raley was an obvious choice, La Russa still made the move, and Vaughn held up his end of the DH platoon.
The only quibbles are more a matter of preference. I didn’t care to see Craig Kimbrel in the eighth, but he pitched when he could do the least possible damage (two outs, nobody on, three-run lead). And I didn’t think Liam Hendriks was necessary after the Sox expanded the lead to six, but Hendriks was already warm and spent minimal time on the mound. With Game 4 postponed, there shouldn’t be much of a penalty for the appearance.
No. 5: Adam Amin, A.J. Pierzynski and Adam Wainwright
After some amateurish production issues in Game 1, and MLB Network’s irrelevant broadcast in Game 2, the White Sox finally got a broadcast nobody could complain about. As the Astros and White Sox womped on each other with blows big and small over the third and fourth innings, the three-man booth did a great job of capturing the insanity.
For the first couple of innings, I wondered whether Wainwright offered more than a genial appreciation of the talent on the field and a little bit of modern know-how. But as the action intensified, Wainwright showed legitimate excitement and interest, which gave Pierzynski’s acerbic tendencies a natural foil, and the booth radiated a certain joy that you don’t hear from the other national broadcast teams. Think of how many words come to mind for John Smoltz or Alex Rodriguez before you get to “joy.” It’s something the league and its broadcast partners might want to keep in mind.
(Photo by Matt Marton/USA TODAY Sports)
The rainout helps the Sox in that Bummer and Tepera should be able to go multiple innings again if need be. The big question becomes, Do the Astros start McCullers tomorrow. I hope they do. I like the Sox chances a lot better with McCullers pitching in Chicago, then Framber Valdez in a potential game 5. The Sox are going to have to face him either way. I’d rather it be in Chicago.
I agree with regard to playing LMC at home.
I thought bringing in Kimbrel was defensible. See if you can help him get his mojo back in a situation where he can’t put us behind. He had Hendriks warming up, so he was prepared for a quick hook.
Wainwright proved to be the perfect complementary addition to the booth. I found him refreshing. His experience talking about playing the Sox was helpful.
The announcers were very good last night. Wainwright certainly has a career in the broadcast booth if he wants one.
I also agree with bringing in Kimbrel. Let’s face it, if the Sox are going to advance in the playoffs, sooner or later Kimbrel will have to get some big outs. Putting him in that spot last night was a good way to get him feeling better about himself.
The White Sox might want to get Gandalf the Cane Guy to Houston for Game 5, also.
I did enjoy whenever the broadcast digressed into analysis about the helmet nachos and Chicago dogs. Much, much better than Game 1.
I thought it was a great broadcast, and, after the Statcast wild-card game, the second-best national telecast of this postseason. Hearing three broadcasters genuinely enjoy their time at the park is a massive improvement over Bob Costas channeling 1985-edition Howard Cosell with the geriatric members of the country club and John Smoltz sounding like he’d rather be on a golf course.
I thought yesterday highlighted baseball’s problem with length of games. The Red Sox and Rays took 5:14 and it wasn’t only long because of the extra innings and the Sox and Astros took 4:27. I watched the Red Sox and Rays until the Sox game started because I love baseball but I can’t imagine non-fans find these long games engaging (and they have to make it through the non-exciting parts to get to the exciting parts). The small sample of my immediate family won’t watch a baseball game without the Sox in it. I would strongly favor forcing the pitcher to get the ball and throw it and preventing batters from stepping out of the box over and over.
Recency bias definitely at play here, but Luis Garcia has to be one of the slowest starting pitchers in the majors. Come on man, throw the damn ball.
It seems self inflicted by MLB. According to MLB.com, nationally televised games are supposed to have a 2 minute break between half innings but last night we were looking more at like 5 minutes for the commercial breaks. It also seems like players are taking a lot longer between ABs to step out and talk to themselves or rub dirt on hands or whatnot. I guess it wasn’t popular but I miss a few years back where players had to keep at least one foot in the batters box.
Agree. They need a pitch clock, and they need to enforce it. Also, why do players need to adjust their batting gloves after every pitch?
Tim was getting close to pissing me off with his breaks
I didn’t mind the pace of the game. We haven’t exactly had a lot of playoff baseball but maybe in 5 years if Sox have returned each year I will complain. With all the sportsbook apps in hand and Chiefs and Bills going on, the in between innings seemed short.