A’s Defeat White Sox 5-3 Evening Up Series at 1-1

A's White Sox

Athletics 5 White Sox 3

The A’s White Sox series is heading for a deciding game three. The Oakland Athletics defeated the Chicago White Sox 5-3 to even up the best of three series on Wednesday afternoon. The first two games of the series were very similar with the winning team getting an early lead. The deciding game of this series will be played on Thursday 12:00 Pacific Time in Oakland.

Chris Bassitt Was Strong

In Game 2 the Athletics were the team to get great starting pitching. Chris Bassitt didn’t match what Lucas Giolito did in Game 1 but he still dominated the White Sox. Bassitt pitched seven strong innings giving up one run on six hits, one walk, and five strikeouts. He was removed after giving up a leadoff single to Tim Anderson leading off the eighth inning. The 2020 season has been Bassitt’s best year of his young career.

The A’s really needed a big effort from Bassitt in game 2. If not for Mark Canha who knows how this game would have turned out. Nick Madrigal and Tim Anderson led off the top of the third with back to back singles. Up next for the White Sox was Yoan Moncada who hit a long drive to deep left field. Canha raced back to the wall, leaped, and snagged the ball for the out. Not only did that play save at least one run from scoring, but it also seemed to calm Bassitt down. Bassitt would go on to retire the next 12 White Sox batters.

Oakland Scores Early

Oakland drew first blood and scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning. With one out, Tommy La Stella and Ramon Laureano had back to back singles  Two batters later Jake Lamb singled to load the bases with two out. Matt Olson hit a hard groundball to second that Nick Madrigal booted causing two runs to score.

In the bottom of the second inning, after  Sean Murphy walks, Marcus Semien blasted a two-run home run giving the A’s a 4-0 lead. Khris Davis added a solo home run in the 4th inning when the A’s knocked White Sox starter Dallas Keuchel out of the game. It was a far different game for the A’s from Game 1 where they didn’t get their first hit until the seventh inning.

Keuchel Struggles

The White Sox were in good hands with starter Dallas Keuchel pitching in this elimination game, but the lefty just did not have it on this day. Keuchel was removed after pitching three and one-third innings giving up five runs with three of them earned on six hits with four strikeouts. Aside from the two unearned runs, Keuchel did give up two homers and was hit hard in his three-plus innings.

The White Sox bullpen was dominant as Jimmy Cordero, Dylan Cease, and Codi Heuer pitched four and two-thirds innings allowing no runs on one hit and one walk.

Melvin’s Burns Closer

In what was a curious decision, A’s manager Bob Melvin replaced starter Chris Bassitt with closer Liam Hendriks with no outs and one on in the top of the eighth inning. Tim Anderson led off the inning with a single and Bassitt was removed after throwing 92 pitches. With the depth of the A’s bullpen, the decision was strange to bring in Hendriks with a 5-0 lead. After striking out Yoan Moncada, Hendriks gave up a two-run home run to Yasmani Grandal cutting the lead to 5-2. Jose Abreu was up next and he singled to center but Hendriks was able to retire the next two batters to close out the eighth inning.

In the ninth inning, Hendriks started off hot striking out both Adam Engel and Jarrod Dyson. After Nick Madrigal and Tim Anderson singled, Yoan Moncada walked loading the bases. Melvin then removed his closer after 49 pitches and brought in Jake Diekman. Grandal came to the plate as the go-ahead run and walked driving in Madrigal. Diekman got Abreu to ground out to second to end the game.

One can argue that Melvin brought in his closer to face the best part of the White Sox order in the eighth inning, Hendriks has been dominant all year. But he was coming off his worst outing on September 26th. After throwing 49 pitches Hendriks is most likely not available for Thursday’s win or go home game.

Post Game Notes

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson had three hits for the second straight game. Yasmani Grandal has homered in both games driving in four runs. Left fielder Eloy Jimenez once again did not play. White Sox manager Rick Renteria said Jimenez’s condition has not changed and was not available for Game 2. The White Sox have not won back to back road games in the playoffs since 2005 when they won six straight. Wednesday’s A’s win snapped a five-game losing streak in elimination games. The A’s also snapped a six-game postseason losing streak overall.

Nick Madrigal commented on the playing in the deciding Game 3. ”The biggest thing is carry that momentum from the last inning into tomorrow’s game. Even going into today’s game everyone felt good. We had some good innings just didn’t cash in. No one’s really worried, we know what we can do. We don’t have to overthink it, just go out there and play our game.”

Chris Bassitt on the White Sox success against left-handed starting pitchers in 2020. ”I’m pretty sure we’re pretty dang confident in anyone we throw against the White Sox. The numbers don’t mean anything. It’s the postseason. I thought they put absurd at-bats against me, and I’m a righty.’

Game Three Matchup

The White Sox and the A’s are having the first decisive game of the Fall Frenzy. Pitching for the White Sox is rookie Dane Dunning. Dunning was 2-0 with a 3.97 ERA in 34 innings pitched. On the mound for the Athletics is the veteran Mike Fiers. Fiers went 6-3 with a 4.58 ERA in 59 innings pitched. Despite being a member of the Houston Astros from 2015-2017, this will be Fiers’ first playoff start. In his career, Fiers has pitched only one postseason inning in 2015 giving up one run. Both managers have said Game 3 will be all hands on deck.

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