It did not look good for the Oakland Athletics against the Chicago White Sox in game three of the American League Wildcard Round.
Seemed like another disappointing playoff series that ended the A’s season prematurely. The White Sox were on their way. It started in the first inning against starter Mike Fiers who allowed a single to Tim Anderson and then a one out double to leading Most Valuable Player candidate Jose Abreu. Fortunately Eloy Jimenez popped out and Yoan Moncada lined out to right ending the threat.
White Sox starter Dane Dunning didn’t last long only going 2/3rds of an inning. He allowed a single to Tommy La Stella and a single to Mark Canha putting runners on first and third. Garrett Crochet came in and struck out Matt Olson ending the inning.
Fiers luck ran out in the second inning. Luis Robert hit a monstrous 487 foot solo home run to give Chicago an early 1-0 lead. After Nomar Mazara and Adam Engel struck out, Nick Mandrigal singled, Anderson doubled and Yasmani Grandal walked loading the bases and meant the end of the day for the A’s starter. Yusmeiro Petit came in to face Abreu who grounded out to third. Still Oakland was fortunate to only trail by one.
That changed in the third when Petit struggled. He allowed a double to Jimenez who then got removed from the game due to aggravating a foot injury. James McCann ran for him and scored on a single by Robert. A RBI double by Robert gave the White Sox a 3-0 lead.
At that point Chicago’s offense registered eight hits and three runs through three innings. Over the next six innings Oakland relievers did their job and allowed four hits and a run though the White Sox didn’t go away quietly.
In the bottom of the third the A’s managed to load the bases with one out. Yet were not able to score. Canha popped out and Olson struck out.
The pivotal moment for the A’s offense came in the fourth. Robbie Grossman walked with one out, after a Ramon Laureano strike out, Sean Murphy launched a two-run homer off Codi Heuer. Carlos Rodon a lefty came in to face La Stella and walked him, Marcus Semien doubled to left putting runners on second and third, Bob Melvin elected to pinch hit for Jake Lamb with Chad Pinder who got intentionally walked loading the bases.
Matt Foster came in and struggled with his command. He walked Canha and Olson, yet got Khris Davis to fly out to end the inning, still the A’s led 4-3.
After Mazara tied the game at 4-4 in the top of the fifth. Oakland’s offense again took advantage with two outs. Murphy walked, La Stella reached due to catcher’s interference, Semien walked and Pinder drove in two with the bases loaded with a single to left.
Still the White Sox didn’t go away quietly after falling behind 6-4. Lou Trivino took the mound in the seventh inning, Abreu reached on an error by Semien, McCann got hit by a pitch. He then got Moncada to fly out to right and Robert fouled out to Olson who went a long way in foul ground to catch the baseball allowing the runner to tag up and reach third. Jake Diekman came in and walked Grandal, yet Engel grounded out to second.
Joakim Soria who has struggled throughout his career in the playoffs came through when he needed to the most. After allowing a one out single to Anderson and then walking Grandal who got pinch ran for with Jarrod Dyson. He faced Abreu who wound up grounding into a double play to end the inning.
For the ninth Melvin went to Liam Hendriks who did not have his best performance in game two. It didn’t start well as he gave up a lead off single to McCann. He then proceeded to strike out the next three hitters including reaching 100 miles-per-hour on his fastball at one point. His last pitch got clocked at 98 miles-per-hour and got perfectly placed on the inside corner to Mazara who couldn’t even swing.
Noteworthy about the series win for the A’s. Is that it was Bob Melvin’s first playoff series win as manager since 2007, it breaks a streak of nine straight losses in closeout games and the first time and the first time coming back from a three run deficit to win in 24 playoff games.
As for Chicago Anderson came the first player in Major League Baseball to have nine hits in his first three playoff games.
Reactions of the playoff win on Twitter look like this:
My Oakland @Athletics won a postseason series.
I am crying tears of joy. I’m speechless. #RootedInOakland
— Matty Aston (@WhoIsMattyAston) October 2, 2020
Wow! What a great game! The @Athletics win 6-4 and head to the ALDS to play the @astros #MLBPlayoffs #RootedInOakland #mlb #oakland #oaklandathletics @EastBayTimes @BayAreaSportsHQ @ShaynaRubin pic.twitter.com/7EmT5q5cRY
— Jose Carlos Fajardo (@jcfphotog) October 2, 2020
OAKLAND — The Oakland Athletics ended 14 years of postseason futility, riding Chad Pinder’s go-ahead, two-run single in the fifth inning and repeated costly walks by Chicago’s relievers to rally past the White Sox 6-4 on Thursday and win the… https://t.co/56sLzkVK15
— Napa Register Sports (@NVR_Sports) October 1, 2020