White Sox Looking to Carry Late Momentum into Do-or-Die Game 3

The Chicago White Sox wake up today in a dire situation, now facing elimination after failing to complete their furious late-innings charge on Wednesday in Oakland, but a couple of Sox veterans are confident that the club can carry that momentum into today’s do-or-die Game 3 and use it to their favor.

“Playoff time is all about momentum, who has it and who doesn’t,” said White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal, “Putting it back on our side puts us in a good position tomorrow.”

Grandal, who started the late-innings charge on Wednesday by bashing his second home run of the series against Athletics’ closer Liam Hendriks, thinks that the final two frames on Wednesday afternoon was a plus for reasons beyond momentum.

With his club up five runs in the eighth inning A’s skipper Bob Melvin replaced his starter Chris Bassitt after Tim Anderson collected his third hit of the ballgame to open the top of the eighth inning. Melvin called on his closer, Liam Hendriks in a non-save situation, and to say that it backfired would be putting it lightly.

Hendriks surrendered two runs on four hits and two walks in his 2.1 innings of work on Wednesday, a very important feat by the White Sox according to Grandal.

“Obviously, he’s one of the most elite guys in the game. He’s got electric stuff. You’re going into war against him. The fact that we were able to get that many pitches out of him, we were able to battle him and get to him late, that’s a plus for us. Pretty sure in the same situation tomorrow, he’s going to be in there.”

Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Despite taking the loss on Wednesday, Dallas Keuchel like Grandal knows a thing or two about winning baseball games in the postseason. Keuchel spoke to the importance of the late-innings surge after the game on Wednesday.

“The eighth and ninth helped us out today,” he said. “We were getting shut out by a good pitcher and a good team; the momentum can help us put our best foot forward. We were ready today, we just got outmatched. Whoever starts tomorrow is going to come out and do their job, and put us in a good position to win. We have the chance to win a series.”

In his worst start in a White Sox uniform on Wednesday Dallas Keuchel lasted only 3.1 innings, allowing five runs (three earned) on six hits, two of which left the park.

“I just wasn’t able to find a rhythm and settle in,” Keuchel said. “They did their homework. My game plan going in, it’s going to be first-pitch swings, or they’re going to let me establish balls and strikes early. Credit them, they did a little bit of both. It’s on me to establish that first inning…It was just feel of things. Thankfully, I’ve had a pretty good run of movement and command, but I feel I forced some fastballs away, could have gone with the cutter or slider. If I had know [the cutter and slider would have] been that good I’d have kept throwing them. I went with what got me here, and they did some damage with them.”

As for today, we don’t know much about the plan on the mound after Ricky Renteria declined to share his plans in the postgame media availability on Wednesday afternoon.

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.

After Dylan Cease was used to retire Oakland in the bottom of the seventh inning we likely won’t see him start today, and you can eliminate Carlos Rodon from the equation with his lack of innings since returning from injury, leaving the White Sox with two options.

  1. Dane Dunning starts and likely operates with a very short leash.
  2. The White Sox use their well-rested arms in the bullpen to piece the game together. This would likely consist of a combination of Garrett Crochet, Codi Heuer, Aaron Bummer, Evan Marshall, Matt Foster, and Alex Colome.

Regardless, veteran catcher Yasmani Grandal isn’t worried about the direction Renteria ultimately decides upon today, and he’s plenty confident in the glut of relievers that the White Sox can deploy today.

“Throw them out there, I have plenty of confidence in [our young relief arms],” Grandal said. “They’ve shown they can do it. By the looks of it, they like to be on the big stage.”

First pitch for today’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.

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