Bases loaded, two out, trailing by a pair with the likely American League MVP Jose Abreu at the plate against a reeling Oakland Athletics’ bullpen. They couldn’t have drawn it up any better for the White Sox to have a shot at a thrilling come-from-behind victory on Wednesday afternoon in Oakland.
Unfortunately, Oakland isn’t quite Hollywood, and the White Sox weren’t quite good enough on this afternoon.
Despite Athletics’ manager Bob Melvin making his second curious pitching decision in as many days by running closer Liam Hendriks out in the top of the eighth with a five-run lead, and leaving him in for 49 pitches that the White Sox used to set up their near comeback, Jose Abreu offered at the first offering from A’s left-handed reliever Jake Diekman, hitting a rocket one-hopper to second-baseman Nate Orf to end the ballgame.
The final six outs of the game offensively for the White Sox were the most promising of the game, and actually might work in their favor tomorrow afternoon when they play in their first postseason win or go home scenario in franchise history.
One would imagine that Hendriks would be spent after his laborious outing today, shortening up an Oakland bullpen that looked much more vulnerable during the last two days than they did during the entire regular season.
Of course, Bob Melvin insisted after the game that Hendriks will in fact be available, telling the media, “I guarantee you he’s available for tomorrow.”
Alright, Bob. If you’d like to manage yourself right out of the playoffs, be my guest. Hendriks surrendered two runs on four hits and two walks in his 2.1 innings of work on Wednesday, so if Melvin insists on using him tomorrow, the White Sox likely won’t object to it.
Outside of the final two frames, the White Sox didn’t have much working for them. Nick Madrigal allowed a Matt Olson liner to ride up the palm of his glove and into right field to allow the first two runs of the game across, and then he made a less-than-stellar baserunning blunder in the third inning that cost the Sox a run.
Yoan Moncada — who seems closer and closer to busting out of his season-long slump — drilled a Chris Bassitt offering deep to left field, but Mark Canha made a superb catch against the wall to save extra bases.
Had Madrigal not completely flubbed the hit-and-run on the previous play, he would have been standing on third base and would have scored easily on the deep Moncada fly out.
Then there was Dallas Keuchel, who came into the game with a strong resume both in the playoffs, and against Oakland, and picked the absolute worst time to have his worst start in a White Sox uniform. Keuchel lasted only 3.1 innings, allowing five runs (three earned) on six hits, two of which left the park.
Keuchel lived over the plate and the A’s took full advantage of the uncharacteristic approach by the veteran southpaw.
On the other side of the pitching matchup, former White Sox prospect Chris Bassitt tossed a fine game as he held the White Sox to just one run for seven innings before a Tim Anderson base hit knocked him out of the ballgame in the top of the eighth inning.
Anderson was strong again Wednesday as he picked up three hits in five trips to the plate and scored a run. A’s starter Chris Bassitt was complimentary of the White Sox shortstop after the game saying that, “Tim Anderson is gosh dang incredible.”
The White Sox entered the day with a shot at punching their ticket to the ALDS next week, but a forgettable performance by Dallas Keuchel and others will force them to wait until tomorrow for their second and final attempt.
But who will follow Keuchel to open Game 3 for the White Sox is now the question of the evening (and probably early morning).
Dylan Cease was eliminated by process of elimination when Rick Renteria inserted him into the ballgame this afternoon, which leaves Dane Dunning and Carlos Rodon as the only other traditional starters on the White Sox playoff roster that doesn’t include the presence of either Reynaldo Lopez or Gio Gonzalez.
Personally, Dane Dunning on a very, very, very short leash, or Garrett Crochet as an opener followed by a bevy of relievers would be my pick, but you’re not here for my pick.
Unfortunately, you’re not getting Rick Renteria’s either. At least tonight. Renteria told the media after the game that he’ll be waiting until Thursday to announce his starter, which doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t be an opener, in the words of veteran Sox scribe Scott Merkin, who like I would go with Crochet to open.
First pitch for tomorrow’s deciding Game 3 is set for 2:10 (CT) and like the last two days, ESPN (TV) and WGN AM 720 (Radio) will be the place to catch the action.
Featured Photo: Oakland Athletics via Twitter