ALDS: White Sox defeat Astros in Game 3 to stay alive
CHICAGO – The first two games of this American League divisional series between the Houston Astros and the Chicago White Sox were decidedly one-sided. The Astros outscored their opponents by a total of 15-5 and came into play on Sunday needing just one more win to advance to their fifth straight AL championship series. The White Sox, winners of a weaker division, seemed outclassed.
Still, White Sox fans filled the guaranteed rate field for Game 3 on Sunday night, their team’s first home game in the playoffs since 2008. They rained boos – and vulgarities – on the Astros, many of whom were part of the 2017 World Series squad who were later revealed to have cheated. The stands were bursting with beer, energy and black jerseys, boosting the morale of their hometown team.
“This place was rocking,” White Sox wide receiver Yasmani Grandal said.
In front of 40,288 people, the White Sox responded this way, producing a 12-6 victory that saved their season and reduced their series deficit to the best of five to two games to one. The odds are still in the Astros’ favor, but the White Sox survived to play another day. Game 4 is Monday afternoon.
The White Sox survived a see-saw nine-end game that lasted nearly four and a half hours. They survived after their starting pitcher only lasted one and two-thirds inning. They survived an Astros offense that was the highest in baseball in the regular season and the second most difficult to eliminate – although it raised eyebrows for some in the White Sox box.
Ryan Tepera, who pitched two perfect innings on Sunday, found it curious that the Astros struck out 16 batting in Game 3 in Chicago after taking out so many combined strikeouts in Games 1 and 2 at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
âThey obviously have a reputation for doing sketchy stuff there,â he said. âYou could say that’s a bit of a difference. You saw the swings and the hiccups tonight compared to the first two Minute Maid games. “
The White Sox, however, were also different on Sunday, and the game turned in the third and fourth innings. In the third, Astros right fielder Kyle Tucker crushed a two-run homerun over Michael Kopech for a 5-1 lead. Kopech came in to replace White Sox starter Dylan Cease, who left early after allowing three points.
But energized by a noisy stadium, the White Sox started their rally. Grandal beat a two-run homerun against Astros starter Luis Garcia to reduce their deficit to 5-3.
Garcia pulled out another but then gave up two singles. Astros manager Dusty Baker opted to leave him in the game, but after Garcia fell behind in the scoring, 2-0, to White Sox outfielder Leury Garcia, Baker made the unusual decision to pull him out. during a strike at the bat. Baker said he didn’t turn to Yimi Garcia earlier because the reliever needed time to warm up.
Put in a tough spot, Yimi Garcia ceded a three-run homerun to Leury Garcia who gave the White Sox a 6-5 lead and sent the crowd into a frenzy.
Even after the Astros tied the score with a single by third baseman Alex Bregman in the top of the fourth, the White Sox fought back late in the inning. First baseman Jose Abreu’s single gave his team a 7-6 lead. Then the lead was increased to 8-6 on a curious play.
After Zack Greinke, who was only making his second relief appearance since 2008, got Grandal to cut a ball off the line, Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel lined him up and shot home. But Grandal, instead of running on the dirt from the first baseline, ran further inside on the grass. Gurriel’s throw hit Grandal’s left arm and ricocheted past Astros wide receiver Martin Maldonado, allowing White Sox center fielder Luis Robert to glide safely.
White Sox manager Tony La Russa said Grandal simply ran from the corner where he left home plate on first base and did not intentionally interfere. Baker disagreed but called it Grandal’s smart play.
âI wish I could tell you it was a one-on-one game,â said Grandal. âI just saw the replay. I had no idea I was running this far inside the line.
In the end, it didn’t matter. Next hitter Eloy Jimenez added another run with a single from Greinke, the 2009 AL Cy Young award winner, whose performance and gimmicks regressed dramatically. And later, the White Sox made several more runs. Although the pace of the match slowed down at the start, the stands remained full and noisy throughout the ninth.
“I can’t tell you the impression that made on our ball club, that the fans stayed until the end,” La Russa said. “It was amazing for four and a half hours.”