The Chicago White Sox took down the Houston Astros in a wild Game 3 of the ALDS Sunday evening in Chicago. The White Sox were facing elimination, having lost both games in Houston in the best-of-five series, but showed their mettle in coming from behind to take this one. The series will now go at least four games with the Astros leading the series, two games to one.
Here are five of the major takeaways from the White Sox's 12-6 win.
1. White Sox power bats wake up
Through the first 20 innings of the series, the White Sox had 20 hits. That's actually a pretty good rate, but there was a problem. Every single hit was a single. Not only were they down 2-0 in the series, but heading to the bottom of the third in this game, they were losing 5-1 to the Astros.
Two big home runs paved to the way for the breakout inning. With a runner on first and one out, Yasmani Grandal hit a home run to make the deficit look workable at 5-3. Two more singles -- hey, I didn't say they were bad -- set the table for Leury García and the proverbial big blow:
See? Diversify that offense and add homers to the singles. That's a five-run inning to salvage the season.
Of course, it wasn't over as the Astros would nearly immediately tie the game in the top of the fourth. In the bottom, though ...
2. Wild fourth inning puts White Sox up for good
Three fortunately-placed singles (there was a weak infield single, a weak flare and a 109-mph grounder that found a hole) gave the White Sox the lead back before the funkiness really got started. Grandal hit a grounder to first base and, knowing the throw was coming home, immediately took a path in the way of the throw. He would get hit with the throw, aiding the run to score (Luis Robert accidentally took out home-plate umpire Tom Hallion on his slide, too). Then there was a weak grounder down the third-base line for Eloy Jiménez that he beat out for another infield hit. That made it 9-6.
Chicago ended up adding three insurance runs in the eighth inning when Andrew Vaughn pinch hit for Gavin Sheets and delivered an RBI double followed with another double from García to send Vaughn home. Tim Anderson got his first RBI of the series to make it 12-6.
Speaking of Anderson, that is now five three-hit games in six career playoff games to this point.
Most 3-hit games in 1st 6 career postseason games:— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) October 11, 2021
Tim Anderson: 5
Edgar Martínez: 4
García should also be highlighted for his four-RBI game. In all, the White Sox pounded out 16 hits. Every single starter had at least one hit with Jiménez, Yoán Moncada and Gavin Sheets joining García and Anderson with multi-hit efforts.
3. Both starters knocked out early
The pressure was put on both bullpens early in the game, as neither starting pitcher was effective. The lines:
Luis Garcia: 2 2/3 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3 K
Dylan Cease: 1 2/3 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 K
The quick hooks made sense. When White Sox manager Tony La Russa pulled Cease, it looked like they were in danger of being blown out in an elimination game. And then when Astros manager Dusty Baker pulled Garcia, they were trying to hold the lead in a game where they could close down the series.
4. White Sox bullpen came through
Michael Kopech came on for Cease and got a big out to strand two runners in the second. He worked the next two innings, striking out five, but he also gave up three runs.
The true mastery followed.
Ryan Tepera went six up, six down with three strikeouts, needing only 24 pitches to cover the fifth and sixth innings. Lefty Aaron Bummer followed with four straight strikeouts before getting a Kyle Tucker groundout (see below on that note) and handing the ball to Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel got a four-pitch groundout of Yuli Gurriel. Liam Hendriks closed things down in the ninth.
In all, the White Sox's top four relievers combined for five scoreless and hitless innings with nine strikeouts to hold down one of the most prolific offenses in the league.
5. Kyle Tucker still crushing the ball for Astros
After a slow start, Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker was one of the best hitters in baseball for most of the season. Starting on May 9, Tucker hit .329/.394/.620 with 33 doubles, 25 homers and 76 RBI in 107 games. Through the first two games of the series he was 2 for 8 with a homer and three RBI.
What he did early in Game 3 here got overshadowed, but Tucker had a two-RBI double in the second inning and then a two-run homer in the third. He scored on a Jake Meyers single following the aforementioned double, so in building that 5-1 lead by the middle of the second inning, Tucker accounted in some way for all five Astros runs.