No products in the cart.
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.
*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.
(Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/USA TODAY Sports)