Happy first postseason home game of 2021, White Sox fans!
The uproarious sea of black at Guaranteed Rate Field tonight boosted our South Siders more than a Frank-Thomas-administered dose of Nugenix. Game 3 of the American League Divisional Series is one of the most exciting games we’ve seen this year, as the Houston Astros came into this game up 2-0 on the White Sox in this best-of-five series. The last time we saw the Astros in postseason baseball we swept them for a World Series win, and 16 years later we’re fired up to defeat the most hated team in Major League Baseball.
Defenders of the Big Cheat, I know what you’re thinking: But that was years ago! Get over it! For those of you haranguing that defense, please refer to other teams’ current claims from this season, Andy Martino’s book CHEATED, and any lazy armchair research whatsoever to prove otherwise, because the evidence is unconcealed.
Despite the entire nation hating the cheating Houston Trashtros, their fans will continue to defend these trash-kickers. It takes some serious cognitive dissonance to defend a cheating team, and to overlook how much of that cheating has led them to five straight postseasons. To suggest that cheating had nothing to do with their success is laughable, and so was the overpowering chants of “CHEATER!” booming repeatedly from Guaranteed Rate Field.
That’s part of why this Blackout Game rescued our weary souls from the distress of the first two games of the postseason, and we were all ready for the deliverance. This was the first White Sox postseason home game in 13 years, and the first back-to-back postseason in franchise history, so the fans came ready to lose their voices. Despite the rocky start of the series, the South Siders came in swinging tonight, in a lengthy match that ended later than anticipated.
The best way to recover from the first two losses in this series was with some good, old-fashioned revenge offense, quality pitching from a great bullpen, and some luck — and the White Sox delivered on all counts. The Good Guys were 52-28 at home in the regular season, with the best winning percentage at home in the American League, so tonight’s final result was no surprise.
Despite this prominent win, Game 3 wasn’t taken easily. After Dylan Cease’s red hot 1-2-3 first inning fueled by triple-digit fastballs, the White Sox starter fell apart in the second, with the shortest outing of his career, at 1 ⅔ innings. We finally got to see Michael Kopech in the postseason, and he brought his fire and helped calm everything down, but the Astros still fired back and re-took the lead, built to 4-1. A hushed doom fell upon Guaranteed Rate Field, and fans felt the desperation of needing this win. The quiet was unsettling.
Faith was restored in the third inning, when the Garcia³ magic worked in favor of the White Sox. Astros starter Luis Garcia was pulled after putting two on base, and falling behind 2-0 in the count to Leury García, so Astros manager Dusty Baker called up Yimi Garcia from the bullpen. In a moment now sitting atop the Leury Legend lore, Yimi gave up a three-run homerun to Leury, and the White Sox re-took the lead, 6-5.
The Astros answered in the next inning, tying the game until the fourth, when that big MVP energy led to an José Abreu single that put the Sox ahead for good, 7-6. With our offense alive again, all the buttholes in Guaranteed Rate Field finally unclenched, even though the game was close. The boys were back, and we had a feeling that a win was coming.
Game commentary usually doesn’t make its way into game recaps, but in this case, it will. Full disclosure, I was working on an article during the first two games of the postseason, and I got so heated during the second game that I threw it in the trash, and not because of the game. When a poorly-aged Jim Kaat is forced to apologize on-air for a casually delivered racist remark made at the expense of Yoán Moncada, all bets are off. The audacity of his bored apology sent me over the edge. I exchanged fuming texts with my dad, who didn’t know that he wasn’t able to watch Game 2 on the MLB Network, and it made me even more incensed that I had to watch the travesty alone.
This game was fortunately a vast improvement, but AJ.. Pierzynski’s clueless interjections and hypocritical remarks sounded even worse next to Adam Wainwright’s thoughtful and informed commentary. A.J. “most-hated dirty bird” Pierzysnki had the gall to say that his White Sox counterpart catcher Yasmani Grandal purposely ran outside of the baseline to block the throw to the plate during a fielder’s choice RBI single, a move much less dirty than AJ’s classic rule-skirting plays. Remember when everyone said you were punchable, but White Sox fans stood behind you, A.J.? I think you’re punchable now, and your takes tonight weren’t hot or quirky. I even made a statue for you, A.J. For shame.
Despite A.J. making my ears bleed with his lukewarm, out-of-touch takes, this inning was still hot for the White Sox, with an Eloy single that put them ahead, 9-6, before the fourth had finished. The score remained stationary until the bottom of the eighth, with separate Andrew Vaughn, César Hernández, and Tim Anderson RBI hits that made it 12-6, where the score would remain for a White Sox win.
The White Sox shined tonight in multiple ways. The bullpen stepped up, with previously suspected double-agent and ex-Cub Ryan Tepera killing it with back-to-back 1-2-3 innings. Following suit, Aaron Bummer put away a 1-2-3 inning, and another 1-2-3 with a Bummer/Kimbrel combo in the eighth. Liam Hendriks, resident philanthropist and super Aussie badass, closed the game with another 1-2-3 inning. The bullpen’s collective 14 Ks contributed to a franchise-record 16 in a postseason game.
The South Side offense finally bloomed tonight, with 16 hits, a White Sox postseason record. Tim Anderson may not be getting spaghetti and meatballs tonight, but he’s broken even more records: No one in history has had 16 hits in any stretch of six postseason games. Leury “Legend” García erased any missteps he may have had in Game 2 with his clutch offense and solid defense tonight. The heads-up move to first by Yasmani Grandal was big 2005 A.J. vibes, but now they’ll be known as Yaz Style, because, shut up, A.J.
The highlights won’t end with tonight, White Sox fans. The stadium erupted in a “Sox in five” chant in the ninth inning, and the boys know it’s time to finish the job.
Let’s bring this electric energy into tomorrow and cheer on our Good Guys for Game 4, where Carlos Rodón will go for the win.