Nothing lasts forever, and the 2020 White Sox season came to a close today. It was a bizarre game and one that White Sox fans will likely want to put in the rearview mirror. However, the future remains bright, and the White Sox will be back next year. Let’s observe the final game of the first White Sox playoff appearance since 2008.
Play of the game
In terms of win probability added (WPA), Chad Pinder’s go-ahead two-run single was the most important play of the game. This single, which took place with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth, had a WPA of +.213 for the Athletics. That hit gave Oakland a 6-4 lead, and it would turn out to be the last time either team scored.
Robert launches one to the moon
After a scoreless first inning, Luis Robert led off the top of the second inning for the White Sox. After throwing a slider that caught the zone, Oakland’s starter, Mike Fiers, threw an 0-1 fastball that caught far too much of the plate. Robert, who finished the regular season on a low note, did not miss this one. In fact, Robert got just about all this Fiers fastball. The exit velocity was 112.2 mph, the launch angle was 32 degrees, and the distance was 487 feet. In terms of distance, this was the No. 2 home run of the 2020 season. This blast gave the White Sox an early 1-0 lead. However, one run was not nearly enough to win this game, as this one was far from over at that point.
The depth gets tested
By the end of the fourth inning, six different White Sox pitchers had appeared in this game. One of those pitching changes was involuntary, as rookie Garrett Crochet had to depart due to an apparent injury in the second inning. In addition, Eloy Jiménez had to leave the game after hitting a double in the third. Since things did not go as planned, quite a few players had to make an unexpected appearance.
Nightmarish bottom of the fourth
The bottom of the fourth inning, which took 27 minutes, was a mess for the White Sox. In fact, it was among the most costly half-innings in franchise history. The White Sox entered the bottom of the fourth with a 3-0 lead. After a groundout, a walk, and a strikeout, it appeared that the Athletics would go down quietly. However, the next six Athletics reached base safely. The first of those A’s was Sean Murphy, who hit a two-run homer off Codi Heuer. The next five Oakland hitters did this: walk, double, intentional walk, walk, walk. Just like that, the Athletics had a 4-3 lead.
Walks come back to bite White Sox
Among the biggest reasons for today’s defeat was the lack of control from White Sox pitchers. The White Sox issued eight walks in the first five innings of play. Of those early walks, three of them came around to score. Considering the Athletics’ patience (10.8% walk rate, No. 3 in MLB), it would have been beneficial for White Sox pitchers to attack the strike zone early in the count.
With a WPA of +.293, Chad Pinder earns MVP honors for the rubber match. Pinder used a 2-for-3 performance that included a walk and two key RBIs. There are a few players who earned honorable mention. One of them was Sean Murphy, whose two-run homer got the Athletics on the board. Believe it or not, Nomar Mazara also earns honorable mention. Though it was a disappointing season for Mazara, he had a few excellent plate appearances in this game. Mazara went 2-for-4 with a walk and two RBIs, and he provided a WPA of +.194. Finally, honorable mention also goes to Tim Anderson, who went 3-for-5 with a double. Thanks to another great day at the plate, Anderson finished the series with nine hits, and he had three hits in every game this series. As a result, Anderson became the first player in MLB history to get at least three hits in each of his first three career postseason games.