White Sox 12, Astros 6: Sox still standing after slugfest

At Minute Maid Park, the Astros produced all the power and enjoyed all the luck.

At Guaranteed Rate Field, the White Sox got to see what home-field advantage was all about.

The White Sox could have folded when Dylan Cease pitched his way out of the game in the second inning and the Sox trailed 5-1 after 2½, but instead they accounted for 11 of the game’s final 12 runs. The team that couldn’t notch a single extra-base hit through two games blasted two homers and tacked on two RBI doubles. The team that couldn’t find a hole against Houston’s infield defense when it needed one racked up 16 hits. And even when grounders found infielders, things like baserunners and broken bats ended up getting in the way.

The result was a raucous six-run victory in front of a frenzied 40,288 fans, most of them clad in black. It’s also the first postseason White Sox winner in Chicago since 2008.

While the Astros’ knack for counterpunches carried into the first half of this game, the White Sox were able to land the biggest blows.

After Michael Kopech gave up a two-run homer in the top of the third that made the idea of a sweep a very real concept, the White Sox stormed back with a five-run third. Yasmani Grandal answered Kyle Tucker’s cheap opposite-field two-run homer with a wall-scraping flare of his own to restore the two-run deficit, and yet the White Sox weren’t done.

Houston starter Luis García struggled against lefties during an otherwise outstanding rookie season, and the White Sox lefties all came through. After Grandal’s homer, Yoán Moncada restarted a rally two batters later with a line-drive single to right, followed by Gavin Sheets doing the same.

Up came Leury García, who worked a 2-0 count before Dusty Baker came out to replace Luis García with Yimi García. The move had overtones of desperation, and Leury García of all people smoked it out. After getting ahead 3-0, he watched an outside corner fastball for strike one. When the second pitching García came in with a fastball over the plate, García crushed every bit of it off the batter’s eye for a three-run homer and a 6-5 lead.

Kopech then invited the Astros to answer when he walked José Altuve with two outs in the top of the fourth, and singles by Michael Brantley and Alex Bregman scored him. Kopech did, however, blow a fastball past Yordan Alvarez with two on and two outs to keep the game tied, and that’s all he needed to do, because chaos came to play in the bottom of the fourth.

Tim Anderson reached on an infield single clocked at 72.8 mph. Luis Robert followed with a squibber through the right side at 72.3 mph that put runners on the corners. Up came José Abreu, who beat a first-pitch slider into the ground at 109 mph … but through the middle to score Anderson and move Robert to third.

In came Zack Greinke, who continued to get harmless-looking batted balls, but with initially crazier results. For instance, Grandal hit a bounced to first base, with Robert breaking for home on the contact play. Yuli Gurriel fired home, but the ball glanced off the shoulder of Grandal, who was running on the grass inside the baseline, and past Martin Maldonado was Robert dived into home and took out home plate umpire Tom Hallion. Dusty Baker came out to argue, but the ruling was that Grandal had established his baserunning line, which would be the second time this season that being so slow paid massive dividends.

That gave the White Sox an 8-6 lead, and Eloy Jiménez made it 9-6 with a nubber down the third-base line that looked bound for foul territory before it spun toward the grass for one more run.

It turned out the Sox didn’t need them, because Ryan Tepera calmed down the game with two perfect innings, retiring all six batters he faced with three strikeouts. He also set the tone for the rest of it. Aaron Bummer went five-up-five-down with four strikeouts in a dominant performance, allowing Craig Kimbrel to pitch in the eighth inning with only one out to get (a routine bouncer to third).

A three-run eighth — RBI doubles by Leury García, and a pinch-hitting Andrew Vaughn, and an RBI infield single by Anderson — all after two outs pushed the game into José Ruiz territory, but with Liam Hendriks already warm, Tony La Russa didn’t activate anybody else. Fortunately, Hendriks pitched a perfect ninth on just 10 pitches to minimize his strain. White Sox relievers combined to retire the final 13 batters they faced, 10 by strikeout.

Ruiz didn’t pitch, nor Garrett Crochet, nor Reynaldo López. Everybody should theoretically be available for another wild situation in Game 4, because Tepera only threw 23 pitches and Bummer 24, and they only threw 11 out of the strike zone between them.

As for Dylan Cease, he struck out the side with electric stuff in the first inning, but after Tom Hallion called high 2-2 slider in the zone ball four to Alvarez leading off the second, things fell apart. He issued three walks on top of two hits, and only 20 of his 48 pitches were in the zone. He’s hoping it won’t be his last start of the year, and thanks to a lot of teammates, there’s still a chance it won’t be.

Bullet points:

*Anderson collected three hits to give him 16 over six games, which is the most by anybody over any six-game stretch in postseason history.

*Everybody got a hit, with César Hernández the last to get on board. He reached on an infield single with two outs in the eighth inning because the barrel of his bat caused Carlos Correa to pause and alter his footwork, resulting in a late throw for one last bit of BABIP luck.

*The White Sox were 8-for-15 with runners in scoring position. Of course, Vaughn’s hit wasn’t one of them because Moncada was on first.

*Adam Engel was healthy enough to enter the game as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning.

*Hallion’s zone was pretty bad, but he did extend Grandal’s third-inning at-bat by calling a high 2-2 fastball in the zone a ball, and Grandal homered two pitches later.

Houston leads 2-1 | Box score | Statcast

(Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/USA TODAY Sports)

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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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Trooper Galactus

I think Hallion blew that third strike call on a 2-2 count. Either way, Cease never looked the same after getting screwed out of what should have been a strikeout. Dunno if he lost confidence in the zone (which was generally wide and short, but erratic), or just plain lost control, but it felt like the moment when his game took a definite turn for the worse.

Here’s hoping the weather holds for tomorrow and they give the fans in attendance another display of fireworks.

Red_Hair_White_Sox

That was the best atmosphere I’ve ever been a part of at a ball game. Absolutely electric. Stood and cheered basically the whole time. Back end of the bullpen was lights out and it was still a 4.5 hr game

mikeyb

It was unbelievable. That was at times louder than many major football games I’ve been to. It’s a shame tomorrow won’t also be a night game (although if rain pushes it back, I may regret that wish).

mikeyb

Kind of a random question, but is Billy Hamilton hurt? I would have assumed he would have come in defensively in the 9th (or even run for Vaughn in the bottom of the 8th) if he was feeling healthy.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

I might still have enough crack left to convince myself that we can win this series.

ParisSox

I didn’t watch it. The first two games are clearly my fault. Here’s hoping rain pushes today’s match past my bedtime.

jokkeholmberg

Same here, but no.

BuehrleMan

You’ve obviously been in Europe too long if you’re calling today’s game a “match”. Haha.

ParisSox

Wow you’re right! Haha

jokkeholmberg

What does he mean? To teams play a match against eachother, no?
/a European 😉

knoxfire30

Almost wish the game today was at night, one of the best atmospheres I have ever seen for a baseball game. Excited to get out there today. Hope Rodon has something left in that shoulder but it will be an all hands on deck game lynn and lopez could be long guys and I wouldnt rule out hendrix and or kimbrel throwing multiple innings.

Nice to see a lot of the BABIP luck totally shift in game 3. Gonna need the breaks to go our way to win the series.

texag10

There’s one thing I know about today: Rodon is going to be a man on a mission and give it everything he’s got. This is a guy who bypassed his first all-star game to rest up for this exact moment. Given how we played in games 1 and 2, he wasn’t even assured a chance to pitch in the postseason.

soxygen

Really nice to see the guys get to experience a home playoff win this year. They deserve that and, win or lose today, it gives them something to build on going into next year.

Here’s hoping Carlos has at least one good start left in that arm so we can send this back to Houston.

Root Cause

Seems like a highlight film that captured what 2021 has been for this team.

Cease looked like April Cease, starting out good, then struggling.
Then the hero appeared where we all least expected it- Garcia and in center field no less.
Finally, the bullpen shut down the opposition in the final innings.

Maybe this beat down of the Astros will show them that they can win and I hope the adrenalin puts Rodon in mid-season form.

Last edited 9 months ago by Root Cause
Brett R. Bobysud

QUESTION

If Game 4 has to be postponed due to rain (assuming it’s then played on Tuesday), will Game 5* still be scheduled for Wednesday?

*if necessary

Last edited 9 months ago by Brett R. Bobysud
knoxfire30

seems like the logical thing to do

texag10

For as much crap as we gave TLR for game 2, it appears that he learned his lesson real quick for this game. It was also nice to see a “fuck it, I’ll do it myself” performance from Bummer.

Papa Giorgio

Burying the lede Jim; we had a wizard casting dark spells on the Astros throughout the game. I feel like this at least merits a bullet point.

xubrent

What a game. I watched the game on an hour tape delay so I didn’t wanna look at the SoxMachine chat for spoilers, but that was hell of a roller coaster ride. Based on some post-game comments I heard, seems like the blackout had it’s intended effect.

Elena

Leury had a fine game at the plate and was absolutely competent in the field. I’m glad he was in the lineup and playing right field. Even so, the decision to put him there was surprising and not something I would have done when considering his recent performance prior to last night. There were better choices pre-game, though the gods decided to smile on the decisions of TLR instead.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

If the throw home that hit Grandal was something that happened against us, I don’t think I would have been happy. He seemed clearly inside the baseline. I know the situation of a first baseman throwing home doesn’t happen often but seems like batters should try and get in the way of the throw every time if they will get away with that. I thought very strange that they did not overturn, but we’ll take it!

jhomeslice

I would have called bullshit if the situation were reversed, I agree. Seems like Yasmani got away with one. Reminded me of when Reggie Jackson stuck his hip out and deflected a throw against the Dodgers in like the 1978 WS I think. He got away with it too. Recalling that means I’m pretty old.

Last edited 9 months ago by jhomeslice
BuehrleMan

There’s no doubt in my mind that Grandal’s intention was to interfere on that play. I wasn’t sure exactly how the rules applied when it happened but now that I understand them I still think that’s a crazy call.

You can especially see it on the replay from the camera in right field. Grandal’s first step or two are right on the base line but when he sees where the fielder is going to get to the ball he starts drifting inside in order to get directly in between the first baseman and the catcher. Blatantly obvious for me.

roke1960

But what Grandal did was perfectly within the rules. The announcers clearly stated that the player established his line to the base. Grandal started on the inside of the line and didn’t waver from that. He did not stick his arm out to deflect the ball- it hit him as he was running. Now the rule may be bad, but he did nothing wrong.

texag10

The best explanation I’ve seen was on Reddit: that play was no different from an attempted 4-3 double play. The runner going to 2nd is under no obligation to make the throw easier on the first baseman and so long as they aren’t changing direction to get in the path of a THROWN ball, no one bats an eye. Grandal did exactly what any batter in that situation should do.

BuehrleMan

Grandal started on the inside of the line and didn’t waver from that.

That’s not at all what I saw. I would suggest watching it again. When he got hit by the ball Grandal was running on the grass three feet inside the line. There’s like two feet of infield dirt inside the line before the grass starts and he wasn’t anywhere near even being on the dirt.

texag10

I don’t understand what your point is. If a batter chose to, they could run straight at the pitcher’s mound after putting a ball in play and there is nothing in the rules that says they can’t. The dirt and grass are, at best, guidelines and the “base path” doesn’t exist until a play is being made on the runner which never happened. If you want to take it to the extreme, there’s a specific play called “skunk in the outfield” that outlines it fairly well:
https://austinumpires.org/skunkplay.html

BuehrleMan

A batter can’t choose to run straight at the pitcher’s mound if the play the pitcher wants to make is to throw the ball home. My point is fairly simple; the call was wrong.

It is not legal for a runner to intentionally interfere with a throw. Are you saying it is? Or are you saying Grandal didn’t intentionally do it?

LamarHoyt_oncrack

I’m certainly not unhappy about it. Just saying, if Bregman or someone got in the way of a throw from Abreu and was where Grandal was, I don’t think many of us would have thought it was right. But we won by 6 so they can’t complain. And I’m not above accepting the outcome of a bad call if it goes our way. : )

texag10

Unfavorable outcomes happen all the time. This being a unique occurrence doesn’t make the call “bad”.

As Cirensica

It was a great game. I’d use an identical lineup for today vs Urquidy (if we play at all)

calcetinesblancos

Not a fan of changing pitchers in the middle of an at-bat. I’m actually surprised it’s allowed.