Chris Bassitt threw quite the counter punch. He looked as good as Lucas Giolito did in Game 1, too bad he was wearing Kelly green. For seven innings, the White Sox were on the other side of a dominant pitching performance. They had their chances, including the bases loaded in the 9th, before falling 5-3.
Hopes of Dallas Keuchel matching Giolito and ending the series in two quick games were dashed right from the start. It was apparent the lefty didn’t have his best stuff Wednesday as the A’s jumped on him in the 1st, squaring him up on four consecutive at-bats and netting three singles. Matt Olson should have been the third out, but Nick Madrigal missed the ball, allowing two runs to score.
Former White Sox player Marcus Simien smoked a shot to center field with a man on to give the A’s a 4-0 lead in the 2nd. After Khris Davis homered to lead off the fourth, Keuchel would face one batter and be pulled.
Madrigal didn’t just have a tough day in the field, committing two errors, but he also had a rough day on the basepaths. In the top of the 3rd, he was on base following a single and didn’t keep running after Tim Anderson singled. He had lost track of the ball and took a few steps back to first, and it was too late to advance to third by the time he realized it. If Madrigal was on third when Mark Canha makes a great catch on Yoan Mocada’s fly ball, the White Sox might have their first run.
It was not the optimal lineup for the White Sox either. Edwin Encarnacion started at DH and was lifted in the 7th for Nomar Mazara; Leury Garcia got the start in left for the injured Eloy Jiménez; Zach Collins, he of 16 at-bats in the regular season, pinch hit for Garcia in the 7th. Which begs the question, why not pinch James McCann somewhere in there? I get resting the catcher during the regular season, but saving him for a do-or-die game is a big gamble.
Other than the requisite nerves and such, there are reasons to hope the Sox can take Game 3. As Laurence Holmes noted on Twitter, much of the bullpen is fresh. Good outings from Jimmy Cordero, Dylan Cease, and Codi Heuer might prove to be key in the series. As of this writing, TBD is the starting pitcher for both teams and if the final two innings showed anything from the White Sox, it’s that they keep battling. They chased Liam Hendricks and had bases loaded with José Abreu at bat, can’t ask for much more…except a hit.
If given the choice in July, I’m sure White Sox fans would have been happy to hear that they would be playing in October. Let’s hope it’s for more than just one day.