gettyimages-12288348971.jpg
Getty Images

The Oakland Athletics have advanced to the ALDS. Thursday afternoon at RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland, the A's defeated the Chicago White Sox in the winner-take-all Game 3 of their Wild Card Series matchup (OAK 6, CWS 4). The A's are moving on to the Southern California bubble and will take on the Houston Astros when the ALDS begins Monday.

Thursday's game featured a little of everything and a lot of pitching changes. The A's erased an early 3-0 deficit to earn their first win in a winner-take-all postseason game in nearly five decades. This was also their first postseason win after trailing by at least three runs since Game 3 of the 1988 ALCS against the Red Sox. That was 24 games ago.

The Wild Card Series win is the A's first postseason series win since the 2006 ALDS. They were 0-6 in their last six postseason rounds (one ALCS loss, two ALDS losses, three Wild Card Game losses). Here are five takeaways from Game 3.

Robert launched a massive homer

And I do mean massive. White Sox rookie Luis Robert opened the scoring with a long -- very long -- solo homer off Mike Fiers in the second inning. It left his bat at 112.2 mph and landed 487 feet away from home plate. It is the second-longest homer in baseball this year, behind a 495-foot regular season blast by Ronald Acuna Jr. To the action footage:

At 23 years and 59 days, Robert is the youngest White Sox player to homer in a postseason game, surpassing Hall of Famer Frank Thomas (25 years and 135 days in 1993). Also, Robert is the seventh-youngest player to go deep in a winner-take-all postseason game. Only Miguel Cabrera, Bryce Harper, Andruw Jones, Mickey Mantle, Kyle Schwarber, and Juan Soto were younger.

Robert went 2 for 8 in the first two games of the Wild Card Series and really limped to the finish in the regular season, hitting .136/.237/.173 with a 34.0 percent strikeout rate in September. He is insanely talented though, and with players this naturally gifted, they're always one swing away from making an impact. Robert certainly did in Game 3.

Both teams went to the bullpen early

One by design, one out of necessary. Rookie Dane Dunning got the Game 3 start for the White Sox but his leash was very short. In fact, as soon as Tommy La Stella singled to lead off the first inning, rookie southpaw Garrett Crochet was up and throwing in the bullpen. Dunning faced four batters and allowed two hits before Crochet took over.

Mike Fiers, meanwhile, was hit very hard. He gave up a Tim Anderson infield single and a Jose Abreu double around several loud outs in the first inning, then surrendered the long Robert home run in the second. All told, Fiers faced 11 batters, allowed eight balls in play, and their average exit velocity was 94.6 mph. Yusmeiro Petit came in and stranded the bases loaded in the second.

Mike Fiers
OAK • SP • 50
Game 3 vs. White Sox
IP1 2/3
H5
R1
ER1
BB1
K2
HR1
View Profile

Ultimately, Oakland's bullpen outpitched Chicago's, though neither's bullpen was all that great. The White Sox were done in by walks. Nine pitchers combined to walk nine batters, including six walks in an 11-batter span at one point in the fourth and fifth innings. Three of those nine walks came around to score. 

The game's big blow was Chad Pinder's go-ahead two-run single in the fifth inning. The White Sox gift-wrapped the A's that rally -- they loaded the bases on two walks and a catcher interference -- and Pinder, who was limited to 24 games by injuries during the regular season, came through with the two-out knock.

The two starters combined to throw 2 1/3 innings and the two teams combined to use 15 relievers. Only two of those 15 relievers (Evan Marshall and Frankie Montas) recorded more than four outs, and A's closer Liam Hendriks got the save despite throwing 49 high-stress innings Wednesday. Game 3 was a non-stop parade of relievers. 

Here is the bullpen performance breakdown:


IPHRERBBKHR

Athletics bullpen (7 pitchers)

7 1/3

7

3

3

2

5

0

White Sox bullpen (8 pitchers)

7 1/3

6

6

5

9

7

1

It takes a village to win the World Series -- it takes a village to win a single postseason series, nevermind the World Series -- and never has that been more true than in Game 3 on Thursday. The White Sox used 21 of the 28 players on their active roster. The Athletics used 18 of 28. 

Anderson made postseason history

Tim Anderson had three hits in the losing effort Thursday. He had three hits in Game 1, three hits in Game 2, and three more hits in Game 3. Anderson went 9 for 14 (.643) in the series overall and is the first player in baseball history with nine hits in his first three postseason games. Furthermore, Anderson is one of only two players with three hits in three straight postseason games:

  • Tim Anderson, White Sox: Games 1-3 of 2020 Wild Card Series
  • Lou Brock, Cardinals: Game 3-5 of 1968 World Series

Alas, Anderson's three hits alone were not enough to win Game 3. The five batters who followed Anderson in the lineup went a combined 4 for 17 (.235) in the game, so Anderson did not score a run despite being on base three times. He did his job as the leadoff hitter but his teammates could not cash him in. Chicago went 3 for 14 (.214) with runners in scoring position in Game 3, so the opportunities were there. Credit to the A's pitching staff for getting those big outs.

Crochet and Jimenez got hurt

Injuries threw a wrench into Chicago's Game 3 plans. They lost Crochet and young slugger Eloy Jimenez. Crochet exited with forearm tightness in the second inning and that forced the ChiSox to dip deep into their bullpen in the early innings. The White Sox were likely hoping to get another inning out of the young flamethrower. Maybe another two innings. Instead, he got only two outs.

As for Jimenez, he exited with right foot discomfort after legging out a double in the third inning. He did not play in Game 1 or 2 of the series after suffering a mid-foot sprain last week. Jimenez leaving forced James McCann into the lineup, leaving the White Sox without a dangerous right-handed pinch-hitter to replace Nomar Mazara against lefty Jake Diekman in the seventh inning. Mazara walked to load the bases, but Chicago did not score. It was a missed opportunity to drive in runs.

The A's finally won a winner-take-all game

It was not quite as remarkable as the Twins' 18-game postseason losing streak, but the Athletics had lost their last nine winner-take-all postseason games. That streak dated back to Game 7 of the 1973 World Series against the Mets. That was the day before Ichiro Suzuki was born. The A's winner-take-all postseason losing streak dated back a very long way, but it's over now. They are 1-0 in their last one winner-take-all postseason game.