The White Sox wasted no time getting things going offensively in Oakland on Tuesday afternoon when Tim Anderson flicked a two-strike offering into right field, and two at-bats later Jose Abreu went opposite field in his first career Postseason hit to set up a potential scoring scenario with runners at the corners against Jesus Luzardo.
But as important as it was to see some first inning offense from a team that backed its way into the Postseason with an atrocious 10-game stretch to end the regular season, it wasn’t until the following inning when Adam Engel spanked a Luzardo fastball over the tall wall in left-center at the Oakland Coliseum that the White Sox jumped in front of the Athletics.
Engel’s home run made it 1-0, and Lucas Giolito was locked in on the mound. Oakland was doomed from the start.
Jose Abreu followed up his first Postseason hit with a two-run home run in his second at-bat, giving the White Sox a 3-0 lead in the top of third inning.
Not to be outshined, Lucas Giolito sent social media into a mid-game frenzy when he struck out the side in the bottom of the sixth, retiring his 16th, 17th, and 18th consecutive hitters of the ballgame, and taking a perfect game bid into the seventh inning in his first career Postseason start.
While Tommy La Stella ended his bid at perfection with a base hit to open up the home half of the seventh, Giolito was particularly good on Tuesday, mowing down Oakland hitters with a mix of his four-seam fastball up in the zone, and his slider-changeup offspeed pairing looking as good as it has at any point in 2020.
“Yeah man, Lucas is a stud. He’s one of the best of the game. He’s a true ace. He showed it today. That’s a really, really good lineup over there, who put up quality at-bats.”White Sox outfielder Adam Engel on Lucas Giolito’s Game 1 performance.
Giolito worked around the La Stella hit in the seventh, and took a one-hit shutout into the eighth inning, where his pitch count eclipsed 100, and a leadoff walk followed by a base hit to open the frame ended his playoff debut. The Southern California kid ended his first playoff start with a line of 7 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 8 K, all about six hours north of his hometown of Santa Monica, California.
With their ugly end to the regular season, and their question marks on the mound behind Giolito and Dallas Keuchel, winning Game 1 of this Wild Card series with Oakland was essential to the White Sox’s hope of winning their first playoff series since 2005, and Giolito — along with the help of a trio of long balls by the White Sox offense — made sure of that on Tuesday afternoon.
Yasmani Grandal’s solo home run in the top of the seventh inning was the icing on the cake for the White Sox, who took a crucial Game 1 from the A’s, 4-1.
The White Sox now have an opportunity to sweep the A’s with a victory tomorrow afternoon, and punch their ticket to the ALDS, where they would potentially meet either the Houston Astros or Minnesota Twins, and they’ll have Dallas Keuchel on the mound for their attempt at such.
Keuchel was fantastic during the regular season, going 6-2 with a 1.99 ERA in his first season on the Southside, and he’s no stranger to the Postseason, posting a 3.47 ERA in 59.2 innings with the Astros and Braves. Oh, and there’s the World Series that he won in 2017 with Houston.
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