White Sox 4, Athletics 1: The script works

With Bob Melvin using a lefty starter against the White Sox with plenty of right-handed backup in the bullpen, the most direct path to a White Sox victory required damage early, then hoping for some mistakes later. That’s a viable strategy as long as Lucas Giolito could hold up his end of the bargain.

Everybody delivered. The White Sox homered twice off Jesús Luzardo before the bullpen arrived, then tacked on a solo shot off Joakim Soria in the eighth. Giolito went out and retired the first 18 batters he faced. Rick Renteria left him in one or two batters too long, but they had the cushion to endure that blip, and now they’re a win away from advancing to the divisional series.

Giolito relied heavily on his all-fast outfield for the first few innings, with Luis Robert, Adam Engel and Leury García all answering the calls on a variety of well-struck flies. When the middle innings arrived, so did the swings and misses. He only got two whiffs over the first three innings, but the command steadily improved, and by the sixth, he got five misses on seven swings.

While Giolito’s dominance made Rick Renteria’s job easier, it created the possibility that he might be a little too lax in going to his bullpen. Renteria had the right idea when he activated the bullpen after Tommy La Stella ended Giolito’s perfect game bid to start the seventh, but when Giolito finished the inning, Renteria relaxed again.

It’s debatable whether Renteria made a mistake in letting Giolito start the eighth, but he definitely pushed it too far when he visited the mound after a Mark Canha leadoff walk and departed without pulling Giolito. He came right back out after a single put runners on the corners, with Evan Marshall coming out from the bullpen. He got a run-scoring fielder’s choice and a lineout, but when he gave up another line-drive single to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of the lefty La Stella, Renteria rediscovered his timing. He called for Aaron Bummer, and Bummer got another fielder’s choice to defuse the lone Oakland threat.

Alex Colomé closed it out with a 1-2-3 inning, assisted by a nice pick by Yoán Moncada. White Sox pitchers limited Oakland to three hits, which matches Tim Anderson’s total. It also matches the number the White Sox posted in the home run column.

The White Sox threatened early off Luzardo, and the sustained that menace. Luzardo worked around singles by Tim Anderson and José Abreu for a scoreless first, but he served up a solo shot to Adam Engel on an 0-2 challenge fastball in the second.

When the top of the order came back around, Luzardo found more trouble. Anderson led off with a single for the second time in three innings, and while Moncada and Yasmani Grandal grounded out, Abreu wouldn’t let Luzardo close the door.

Or maybe Luzardo didn’t find another exit. Instead of pitching around Abreu after falling behind 2-0 to take advantage of the open base, he came at Abreu with a 2-0 fastball. Abreu responded by homering to left center over the same line that Engel showed, and the White Sox led 3-0. Luzardo might’ve been more frustrated by the fact that he struck out James McCann on three pitches afterward.

Engel ended up chasing Luzardo from the game after a one-out double in the fourth, and the Oakland bullpen met expectations. JB Wendelken, Yusmeiro Petit, Soria and Jake Diekman limited the Sox to just three hits over 5⅔ innings, while striking out six. Fortunately, one of those hits was a Grandal solo shot off Soria that gave the Sox a 4-0 lead, and a little more breathing room everybody appreciated.

Series: White Sox lead 1-0 | Box score | Statcast

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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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Milky✌️

Great to see Tim, Abreu, and Giolito really show up in the postseason. Lest we forget heart of the offense Adam Engel. Don’t stop now boys!

carbiner

Pretty much a flawless game from the White Sox except for the unbelievably brain dead decision to leave Giolito in with 94 pitches and third time through the order; Renteria just looking to trigger everyone imaginable with that move. It’s actually probably better than him throwing a perfect game to have 7 IP and 94 pitches, our 8th/9th is fantastic; what the fuck.

On the bright side Trash Town beating the Twins gives us much better chances in the following round.

burning-phoneix

Eh, since he had a 4 run lead it was fine to give him a bit of a longer leash. The post season is a full on sprint with very little if any off days available so saving your bullpen becomes much more crucial to going on a deep run.

vanillablue

Now let’s close it out tomorrow! Oakland will be feeling the pressure – hoping we can get to Bassitt early.

asinwreck

The media were all over Melvin after the game for starting Luzardo. “Were you aware the Sox were undefeated against lefties?” He responded that he was, that he wanted to go with the guy with the best fastball, but that this will affect his decision on a Game 3 starter should it get that far.

Multiple hits for Anderson, Abreu….and Engel! Multiple hard-hit balls by Moncada. Grandal homering off Soria is evidence the team can hit a little off dominant-handed pitchers. Though the Sox only won one game against the Cubs, the run production in the last two games of that series provided hope they could deliver in the postseason.

And they did. Tough righty and Old Friend tomorrow, but we got another good pitcher on the mound for us. Let’s do it!

texag10

Was reading the post game thread on reddit and someone brought up a point that he didn’t really have a choice when it came to handedness. Bassitt was going to be the game 2 starter because that’s how the schedule fell. Montas pitched on the 27th so he couldn’t have started yesterday. So the only other righty they had was Fiers and Luzardo is a better overall pitcher so handedness be damned. So the good news is, if this somehow goes to 3 games, we are either facing another lefty in game 3 or Montas on short rest.

trappedintheamber

Had a mini panic attack when Renteria handed the game ball to Giolito. He must have no memory of Dusty Baker handing the ball to Russ Ortiz late in game 6 of the 2002 World Series

burning-phoneix

Ricky flexing on curses unlike Cubbies who fear them.

Red_Hair_White_Sox

My takes for tomorrow’s lineup:
– Leury gets the nod in LF. The “all-fast outfield” is helpful in Oakland. Let Eloy rest the foot for at least another day.
– I’m starting EE at DH. Bassitt is a low 90s fastball/cutter pitcher with ~10% usage breaking balls (per baseballsavant). This is the only pitcher he has shown he can punish this season.
– I’m riding the hot hand and letting McCann call pitches again. Grandal is the switch-hitting option off the bench for late inning matchups

Red_Hair_White_Sox

I could be talked into Engel in LF and Mazara in RF as well. Mazara vs Garcia is a toss up for me

Milky✌️

Good point about EE. This might be the one game you’d want him in there.

LuBob DuRob

I feel that Grandal has caught most of Keuchel’s starts with great success, but agree with the other ideas.

metasox

Dyson is another option given Leury is still working his way back

Eagle Bones

I’m thinking maybe DH Eloy if hes up to it. Keep him off his feet most of the time, but bats still in the lineup.

Grandal behind the plate and that should really be a question.

I’d kind of like to stick with engel and leury in the corners, but you know Ricky’s gonna run mazara out there against the righties.

shaggy65

Game 2 script:
Our homer-suppressing control pitcher forces an offense based entirely on walks and power to beat him with singles. Considering their .225 team batting average, I like Keuchel’s chances.

GrinnellSteve

I love watching Lucas when he’s dealing. The way he stepped it up in the middle innings was magnificent. Timmy looks like he’s ready to once again be the straw that stirs the drink, with Abreu being the one who chugs the drink. Robert is looking better at the plate lately. Moncada had some good swings. They both also played stellar defense.

I feel good about where this team is heading into tomorrow. White Sox in 2.

Trooper

that was nice. very nice.

asinwreck

Adam Engel is the first player in White Sox history with a home run in his first career postseason at-bat.

— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) September 29, 2020

blackoutsox

First playoff win in 12 years! insane.

Trooper Galactus

It’s been so long since I felt hope and optimism for this team. Regardless of how the postseason plays out, I’m happy I got to see the White Sox not only play in it, but take a solid, convincing win to boot! This team has arrived!

yinkadoubledare

I’m in for the same corner outfielders until Eloy can play in the field again.

itaita

I think its okay Rick left Giolito in in the 8th. Its one thing if its a 3rd or 4th starter but hes your ace. Let him try to pitch out of it if he can.

Saying this with perfect hindsight of course.

Trooper Galactus

The first guy was defensible. Leaving him in after he walked said guy on four pitches was not.

lifelongjd

Just never know what the discussion was when Rick made first mound visit. If Giolito said he wanted to stay in, then what was Renteria going to do? Again, saying this after a victory is way different than if it went off the rails.

Right Size Wrong Shape

The pitcher is always going to say he wants to stay in. The manager has to manage.

ParisSox

That’s what the ESPN broadcaster was saying too. It was a fair point.

With that said, I really missed the Stone / Bennetti broadcast. Not a fan of the neutral broadcasters, but I get it. Tonight I’m going to watch the game, then turn on the radio feed on another device. Here’s hoping they are synched.

phillyd

I think the announcers are still not allowed to travel to the stadium because the radio broadcast was terrible yesterday. Just a heads up.

texag10

Karl Ravech on the Astros-Twins broadcast was his usual terrible self so at least we didn’t have to deal with that.

Eagle Bones

Um take him out?

NDSox12

This was the Sox first Postseason victory without me in the park since the ’05 World Series clincher (I was at Game 3 in ’08), so it is nice to have that monkey off my back. No complaints from me about anything that transpired today. Hope Eloy is good to go soon!

asinwreck

Hey, is it too late to get Giolito Cy Young votes? The Yankees are slapping Shane Bieber around.

Amar

MVPito!

burning-phoneix

White Sox Post Season Win rate since 2004: 76%
Twinkies Post season win rate since 2004: 0%

DOHOHOHO

Trooper Galactus

Yeah, now do since 2009.

…..oh.

knoxfire30

Luzardo facing the lineup for the 2nd time was a head scratcher really thought he was gonna be used more as an opener … oh well thanks Bob!

Giolito was great, nice work from the pen, and the home run offense did their job. Great first win! Renteria may have made a blunder letting Giolito face Lamb but seems like all his other moves worked out .