OAKLAND, Calif. — A season filled with growth and progress for the Chicago White Sox came to a crushing end Thursday.
The Oakland A’s rallied for a 6-4 victory in the decisive Game 3 of the American League wild-card series at Oakland Coliseum.
In their first playoff appearance since 2008, the Sox used nine pitchers and surrendered nine walks, including two with the bases loaded, in the defeat.
“The guys got a taste of it,” said Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, who had three hits. “It’s just going to make them more hungry.
“(Thursday’s loss is) a little sting. But I’m excited.”
Chad Pinder knocked in two runs with a two-out single in the fifth, giving the A’s the 6-4 lead. The A’s held on to advance to play the Houston Astros in a best-of-five division series beginning Monday in Los Angeles.
The Sox entered the season with buzz after several big offseason moves, including the signings of pitcher Dallas Keuchel and catcher Yasmani Grandal. They started the pandemic-shortened season slowly but regrouped to take over first place in the AL Central for a portion of the season.
They ended the regular season on a slide, dropping eight of their final 10 to fall to the No. 7 seed in the AL playoffs, then regrouped to win Game 1 of the best-of-three wild-card series. But they couldn’t close out the series.
“Coming into spring training and the summer camp, if you would have told us we we’d be playing Game 3 here in Oakland with a chance to move on to the division series, I think everyone would take it, regardless of how we got to this point,” catcher James McCann said. “That aspect, it’s a success. But at the same time, we set our sights a lot higher. Unfortunately we didn’t reach them.”
The A’s scored four runs in the fourth and two in the fifth to erase a 3-0 Sox lead.
Sean Murphy hit a two-run homer off reliever Codi Heuer in the fourth to cut the Sox lead to 3-2. Carlos Rodon walked Tommy La Stella before Marcus Semien doubled, putting runners on second and third. The Sox intentionally walked Pinder and replaced Rodon with Matt Foster, who walked Mark Canha and Matt Olson to give the A’s a 4-3 lead.
The Sox tied the game in the fifth. Yoan Moncada singled, stole second and then scored on a Nomar Mazara single. The tie didn’t last long.
Evan Marshall, the seventh Sox pitcher of the afternoon, retired the first two batters in the fifth, but two walks and a catcher’s interference loaded the bases for Pinder, who singled to left to make it 6-4.
The Sox loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh, but Adam Engel grounded out to second.
Anderson singled and Yasmani Grandal walked with one out in the eighth, but Jose Abreu hit into an inning-ending double play.
McCann singled off Liam Hendriks to start the ninth. But Hendriks struck out Yoan Moncada, Luis Robert and Nomar Mazara to end the game — and the Sox season.
Robert and Mazara staked the Sox to the early lead.
Robert hit a 487-foot solo home run in the second and knocked in a run with a single in the third. Robert advanced to second on the throw and scored on a Mazara double, making it 3-0.
“September was a really bad month for me but I think the last two series I was better at the home plate, my approach was better,” Robert said through an interpreter. “The last three games here were good, I think my offense showed up and I showed what I can do.”
Renteria said after Game 2 that “all hands are on deck” for Game 3. It didn’t take long for that to become true.
Starter Dane Dunning surrendered two singles and exited with two outs in the first. Another rookie, left-hander Garrett Crochet, entered and struck out Olson to retire the side.
“We just wanted to make sure we didn’t put ourselves in a position that could potentially put us behind,” Renteria said of Dunning’s short outing.
Crochet struck out Khris Davis to start the second, but the training staff came out to check on him, and Crochet left the game with left forearm tightness.
Renteria said the injury to Crochet affected the team’s plan for the day “quite a bit.”
“We were going to go to Crochet, get the out and then send him out for two more innings,” Renteria said. “But obviously, that was not to be.”
Aaron Bummer replaced him and retired the next two batters.
Heuer entered with two on and one out in the third. The A’s eventually loaded the bases, but Heuer got Canha to pop out and then struck out Olson.
Sox slugger Eloy Jimenez also left the game early with right foot discomfort. He doubled leading off the third but called on the training staff and left the game. Jimenez missed the first two games of the series and hadn’t played since spraining the foot Sept. 24 against the Indians at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
Jimenez’s double set up the two-run third inning for the Sox. But they couldn’t hold on to the three-run lead.
“We battled,” Anderson said. “I couldn’t be more happy and proud the way we fought. I know that we gave our all. It’s a tough one to swallow, but we’ve got to keep going. It’s just the start of something that can be great.
“We gave our all. I know we gave our all.”
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