The Oakland Athletics forced a winner-take-all Game 3 after their victory over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the Chicago White Sox bats came to life against the pitching staff of the Oakland Athletics to a 4-1 win. Athletics fans didn’t appear to be too confident heading into Game 2 on Wednesday afternoon, mostly based on the fact that the team mustered just three hits in the nine-inning affair.
It seems that all Oakland needed was a little push to wake up this MLB postseason. On Wednesday afternoon, the Athletics pulled out the 5-3 victory over the White Sox to force a winner-take-all Game 3. With the final pitch recorded, we’ll point out the winners and losers of the contest.
Winner: Athletics’ confidence
There are always teams that have had a bad bit of luck in the playoffs. Just ask the Minnesota Twins, who were swept by the Houston Astros in the Wild Card Round and have a losing streak that expanded to an unprecedented 18 losses. Oakland entered Wednesday with a third of Minnesota’s losses, but that was still enough to get Athletics fans antsy.
Instead of being weighed down by their brutal past, the Athletics used it as motivation. Now, the streak is snapped and the team will look to extend their current postseason winning streak to two games on Thursday afternoon. Hey, at least they’re not the Twins!
Loser: Dallas Keuchel
Much like the New York Yankees did with Gerrit Cole, the White Sox handed over a three-year, $55.5 million contract to Dallas Keuchel to take the team to the playoffs and, more importantly, lead them to a postseason victory. Unlike Cole, Keuchel was less than stellar in his first playoff start since 2018.
Keuchel got into trouble in the first inning, as he found himself with the bases loaded with two outs on the board. Unfortunately, he surrendered two runs due to a fielding error from a specific player (we’ll get to that later). The second inning was no better, as he surrendered a two-run home run to Marcus Semien, immediately after allowing a single by Sean Murphy. Keuchel would ultimately exit the game in the fourth, as he allowed a solo home run to Khris Davis.
In total, Keuchel allowed five runs on six hits in 3.2 innings of work. That’s not what the White Sox were expecting from the former AL Cy Young winner who is hoping he’ll have a chance to redeem himself in the Division Round should Chicago advance.
Winner: Chris Bassitt
While Keuchel had a bad outing, the same could not be said for Athletics starting pitcher Chris Bassitt. The 31-year-old had the task of facing the team that selected him in the 16th round of the 2011 MLB Draft. His stint in the Windy City lasted one season in 2014, before he was ultimately traded to Oakland in a package deal for Jeff Samardzija and Michael Ynoa.
Bassitt walked into Game 2 with a 5-2 regular-season win-loss record and a stellar 2.29 ERA, and he backed those statistics up. The right-hander pitched a full seven innings, and despite allowing six hits to the White Sox, he limited them to a single earned run. Bassitt can now say that he played a role in ending the aforementioned losing streak, and he will now sit and wait to see if his squad can advance to the ALDS.
Loser: Nick Madrigal
Nick Madrigal was a heavily-touted prospect in the White Sox organization, which took him fourth overall in the 2018 MLB Draft out of Oregon State. He made his debut this season where he recorded a .340 batting average in 29 games played. On Tuesday, Madrigal made his postseason debut where he went 0-for-4 at the plate, but things were even worse for the rookie on Wednesday.
In the bottom of the first inning, Oakland managed to score two runs, thanks in part to Madrigal misplaying a ground ball by Matt Olson that careened into right field. Had Madrigal been able to secure the ball in his glove, Chicago might have gotten out of the first inning unscathed. Instead, it opened up the floodgates and put the team in a hole quick. To make matters worse, Madrigal made errors while throwing and base-running in the contest. Not ideal.
Madrigal has the chance to redeem himself in Game 3 and potentially play the role of hero.