It was a rather rocky start for Dallas Keuchel, Nick Madrigal, the home plate umpire (well, rocky end for him), and the Chicago White Sox against the Oakland Athletics in Game 2 of the AL Wild Card Series, but there was a lot of life in the late-innings. The Sox forced 49 pitches off of Liam Hendriks, presumably driving him from the game tomorrow. Oakland’s bullpen looks gettable, and the Sox’s offense has heated up this series. It should be a thrilling ballgame tomorrow, especially with the Sox holding most of the momentum.
Dallas Keuchel, for all his brilliance during the regular season, stumbled a bit in his White Sox postseason debut. In 3 1⁄3 innings, he gave up five runs (three earned) off of six hits. Unfortunately, a big Nick Madrigal error in the first inning cost the Sox two runs and would have made the game a bit different down the stretch.
Chris Bassitt continued his ways against the Sox. He was outstanding for seven innings, giving up one run off of six hits. He did what the A’s needed him to do: Force a Game 3.
José Abreu, presumably the AL MVP, stepped up to the dish in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded and two outs. He swung at the first pitch he saw, resulting in a ground out (a 5.71 LI play). Although Jake Diekman walked Yasmani Grandal to drive in a run and was out of control with his pitches, Abreu received a baseball in the zone, and he hit it hard, producing a .460 xBA. Abreu was all over it, but the shift and a little bit of bad luck stood in his way.
At a 4.38 pLI, Diekman felt the most pressure. He came into the game with the sacks packed with Sox and walked in a run, not able to find any control with his pitches. Next up, Abreu approached the plate. Diekman induced a first-pitch swing, and although it should have gone for hit, either tying the game or bringing the Sox within one run (because the pitch was hit so hard), Diekman’s defense and a little bit of luck bailed him out.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the first, Matt Olson reached base on an error, which also drove two runs home. It gave the A’s a 2-0 lead and extended the inning. Nick Madrigal saw the baseball bounce right off of the heel of his glove and proceed to roll into right field. The error kept the inning alive (though no other runs scored in the first) and gave the A’s early confidence.
Setting the tone early and keeping the Sox’s offense slumbering until he was out of the game, Bassitt is this afternoon’s MVP. His utter dominance mystified Sox hitters and gave his team a chance to win.
Magic Number: 1
Stating the obvious, tomorrow is an elimination game, the only one the White Sox have ever faced, and the White Sox are looking to win it. Here, it is time for magic number advice: Take one pitch at a time, take deep breaths, focus, and play the fun game that is baseball. It’s the Sox’s game to win; let’s get it done!