A’s Top White Sox 6-4, Advance to ALDS

A's White Sox

A’s 6 White Sox 4

The Oakland Athletics defeated the Chicago White Sox 6-4 Thursday afternoon in Oakland winning the Wild Card series two games to one. In what was a true all hands on deck bullpen game, the teams combined to use 17 pitchers setting a record for a postseason game. This A’s White Sox game had also of twists and turns with each team stranding a lot of runners on base in scoring position.

White Sox Strike First

The White Sox took the early lead with a second-inning bomb hit by Luis Robert. Later in the inning, the White Sox loaded the bases with two outs knocking out A’s starter Mike Fiers. Yusmeiro Petit was brought into the game and ended the threat by getting Jose Abreu to ground out to second base. Fiers was hit hard in his one and two-thirds innings. The White Sox threatened to score in the top of the first inning but Fiers got Yoan Moncada to line out to rightfield.

In the third inning, Eloy Jimenez led off with a double. Robert singled him home and then scored on a double by Nomar Mazara. The White Sox lead 3-0 and were threatening to open up the game. But Petit struck out Adam Engel and got Nick Madrigal to pop out to second to end the inning. The White Sox left six men on base through the first three innings with five of them in scoring position.

White Sox Injuries

White Sox manager Rick Renteria showed he would have a quick hook with his pitchers very early in this game. Starter Dane Dunning allowed two base runners in the bottom of the first inning. Despite not getting hit hard and with two outs Renteria went to the bullpen and brought in rookie fireball pitcher Garrett Crochet. Crochet struck out Matt Olson to end the inning. With Crochet being a starting pitcher Renteria was expecting some length out of the rookie. After Crochet struck out Khris Davis leading off the second inning he was removed from the game with tightness in his left forearm. Who knows how long Renteria had planned to use Crochet.

Eloy Jimenez who had missed the first two games of the series with a sprained right foot had to be removed from the game after he aggravated the injury by legging out a double in the third inning. Jimenez who was the designated hitter was replaced by catcher James McCann. Renteria was late filling out his lineup card because of the uncertain status of Jimenez. It’s possible Renteris e would have had a different lineup if Jimenez was not able to play.

A’s Strike Back

After Aaron Bummer replaced Garrett Crochet in the second inning he ran into trouble in the third. After allowing a leadoff walk to Sean Murphy and a one-out single to Marcus Semien, he was pulled for Codi Heuer. The A’s countered with Chad Pinder pinch-hitting for Jake Lamb. Pinder stroked a single to load the bases. Heuer would retire the next two batters to escape the inning allowing no runs.

Heuer came out to start the fourth inning and walked Robbie Grossman with one out. Two batters later Murphy blasted a two-run home run which seemed to deflate the White Sox and energize the A’s. Then the inning got very strange for White Sox manager Rick Renteria. Heuer was replaced by Carlos Rodon. Rodon walked Tommy La Stella and Semien doubled to left. With second and third and two outs the White Sox intentionally walked Pinder.

It was a curious move by Renteria because he was about to replace Rodon with rookie pitcher Matt Foster. With the bases loaded Foster walked Mark Canha and Matt Olson forcing in two runs. Foster could not find the strike zone walking both hitters on five pitches. Renteria left Foster in the game to pitch to Khris Davis who flew out to deep right field ending the inning. Davis made the first and last out of the inning as the A’s batted around.

Fifth Inning Fun

With Frankie Montas pitching in his second inning, Yoan Moncada hit a one-out single and stole second base. Two batters later Nomar Mazara drove him in tying the game at four. Mazara had his second run-scoring hit of the game. Sean Marshall relieved Matt Foster in the bottom of the fifth and quickly retired the first two batters faced. Sean Murphy walked bringing up Tommy La Stella. After a catcher’s interference, the A’s had two men on and were threatening to score once again. Marcus Semien walked to load the bases. Chad Pinder singled home two runs giving the A’s a 6-4 lead.

Bullpens Take Over

The next four innings would become a battle of the bullpens. J.B. Wendelken pitched a scoreless sixth inning for the A’s followed by Sean Marshall pitching in his second inning. Marshall kept the A’s off the scoreboard as the sixth inning came to a close.  Lou Trivino started the seventh inning for the A’s and immediately got into trouble. After a Marcus Semien throwing error put a man on first, Trivino hit James McCann giving the White Sox two men on with none out. Trivino retired the next two batters and was yanked by A’s manager Bob Melvin. Jake Diekman entered the game and walked Nomar Mazara but got Adam Engel to ground out ending the inning. Jimmy Cordero pitched a scoreless seventh inning for the White Sox.

Joakim Soria started the eighth inning for the A’s and also got into trouble. With one out Tim Anderson singled for his third hit of the game. Anderson had three hits in every game this series. Yasmani Grandal walked but Soria was able to get Jose Abreu to ground into an inning-ending double play. In the ninth inning, the A’s turned to their closer Liam Hendriks who had 49 pitches the day before. After James McCann singled leading off the inning Hendriks struck out the next three batters to end the game and the series.

Post Game Commentary

A’s manager Bob Melvin was quoted after the game on a number of things. On advancing past the Wild Card round. ”Not everybody’s been part of all that, We’ve had a couple of tough ones in the last two years.” On the players having a subdued celebration. ”We’re doing what we did all year, and that’s following the protocols.” On this being a hard-fought game. ”I woke up this morning feeling like this was going to be a hard game and it was a hard game, … It took everybody today.”

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, who was the best player in the series with nine hits, had these comments. ”It’s a tough one to swallow but we’ve got to keep going, It’s just the start of something that could be great.”

Going Forward

The White Sox made great strides this season. This team is young and talented and is going to be a force for years to come. The White Sox could have the best collection of young position players in the game with Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Yoan Moncada, and Nick Madrigal.

The A’s will begin a best of five series on Monday against the Houston Astros in Los Angeles. The storyline is built-in with the whistleblower Mike Fiers on the A’s and facing the team he played for and outed for cheating back in 2017. Fiers could get a start in this series against his former team.

A’s closer Liam Hendriks on facing the Astros. ”We’re in the middle of it. There’s a little bit of kind of that going on there that we want to make sure they know what they’ve done and we can prove it to them and make sure we’re also the top team in the AL West. But there’s also not being petty and not letting our emotions get the better of us by trying to be over the top and vengeful.”

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