Sox make early exit in first playoff series since ’08

Through a hard-fought, four-game battle, the Chicago White Sox lost three games to one in their first ALDS since 2008 to the Houston Astros. 

This comes as a blow to many fans who have been waiting for this moment for 13 years. 

Game one at Minute Maid Park started off clean for White Sox pitcher Lance Lynn. He pitched an almost entirely clean first three innings. 

The Astros’ offense slowly came crashing down on Lynn, though, who has had a rough time against the Astros’ lineup all season. 

Sox star Gavin Sheets points to the crowd of cheering Sox fans after hitting a home run to take a 1-0 lead over the Houston Astros in game four (Photo Courtesy of USA Today)

The runs started piling on a little too quickly. Walks were giving him the most issues through his time pitching. 

Walks are what led to the Astros’ first two runs of the night. Lynn walked Yordan Alvarez, who then scored on a single hit by Jake Meyers in the second. 

One inning later, with the score at 1-0, Lynn walked Jose Altuve, who eventually scored off of a hard hit ball to third from Alex Bregman. Sox third baseman Yoan Moncada attempted to make the throw home but Altuve beat it out. 

Lynn attempted to make it through the end of the fourth inning but was taken out and replaced with pitcher Reynaldo Lopez. This switch didn’t come before Lynn gave up 5 runs to the Astros’ offense. 

The Sox bullpen managed to put together an otherwise well-pitched game. They only gave up one run for the rest of the game. The run came off of a homer to right-center field from Yordan Alvarez. 

The only offense that the Sox managed to produce came during the top of the eighth inning when Jose Abreu singled to right and Tim Anderson found his way home. 

Astros’ starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. managed to pitch a shutout 6 ⅔ innings. The rest of the game was held together by their lights out bullpen. 

Game two started off much better for the Sox. During the top of the first inning, Eloy Jimenez grounded into a fielder’s choice at second, which scored Luis Robert from third. 

Through the bottom of the first, Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito struck out each batter he faced swinging. 

Problems came back to the White Sox defense in the second inning. Kyle Tucker hit a single to left-center which let Yuli Gurriel score. Chas McCormick then hit a sacrifice fly which scored Carlos Correa. 

Going into the fifth inning with the game still at 2-1, the Sox put together a nice rally. Four singles and a sacrifice fly later, the Sox were on top 4-2. 

However, the Sox were unable to hold onto this lead. Through the rest of the game, the Astros managed to score seven more runs. They took the game 9-4. 

With a 2-0 lead from Houston, the series headed to Chicago where the Sox really put on a show during game three. 

Dylan Cease pitched a lights-out first inning, effectively shutting down the top of the Astros’ lineup.

During the bottom half of the first, Tim Anderson singled to right. Yasmani Grandal then walked. Eloy Jimenez then hit a single to right which scored Tim Anderson. 

The 1-0 of course didn’t last for long. Cease gave up three runs in the second inning. Relief had to come in the form of Michael Kopech, who got the last out of the inning. 

The top half of the third inning was a real slap in the face, too. Kopech gave up a two-run home run to Kyle Tucker, extending the Astros’ lead to 5-1. 

Heading into the bottom of the third, the entirety of Guaranteed Rate field just felt deflated. The crowd went from the loudest to quietest it had been all season within a matter of minutes. 

The cheering quickly picked back up again when Luis Robert walked to start the inning. Yasmani Grandal then hit a home run to left, sending the crowd into an absolute frenzy. 

Yoan Moncada then hit a two-out single. Gavin Sheets followed in hitting a single. With two men on and two out, Leury Garcia hit a home run, 436 feet dead center. The crowd went absolutely insane. 

The inning came to an end after Cesar Hernandez struck out, but that wasn’t much of an issue. The Sox managed to come back with a 6-5 lead. 

The Astros put up one more run but their offense fell flat after. Throughout the rest of the game, the Sox put up another impressive six runs, capping the game off at a 12-6, Sox victory. 

One of the many highlights of game three was when Sox star reliever Liam Hendriks was brought in to close out the ninth inning. 

Some choice words came from that of White Sox relief pitcher Ryan Tepera after the game. This was regarding the Houston Astros’ shady past, of course referring to the infamous 2017 sign-stealing scandal. He implied that the team might’ve been stealing signs during the first two games at home. 

“Yeah. It is what it is. They’ve obviously had a reputation of doing some sketchy stuff over there. It’s just, we can say that it’s a little bit of a difference. I think you saw the swings and misses tonight compared to, you know, the first two games at Minute Maid. But that’s not really the story, you know? We come here to play. We’re going to compete. We’re not going to worry about what they’re going to do,” said Tepera. He continued with, “All we have to do is execute pitches and they can’t hit them anyways.”

Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker responded to Tepera’s claims with, “Well, those are some heavy acquisitions (sic),” said Baker. “We’re about the same runs, OPS and everything as we are – well, actually better on the road than we are at home, and I think they’re actually better at home than they are on the road.”

Game four of the series came as an extreme disappointment to all who were watching. During game three, there was new life breathed into the Sox dugout. This life was quickly knocked out by pitcher Lance McCullers Jr., who came back to haunt the Sox offense. 

The only run produced from the Sox dugout the entire game was a second-inning home run off the bat of Gavin Sheets. 

Carlos Rodon took the mound, starting game four for the South Siders. Rodon pitched two clean innings but fell flat in the third. After giving up two runs in the third, Kopech was once again called in to shut things down. 

He secured the last out of the inning but gave up one more run. The RBI came off the bat of Martin Maldonado, who only had one hit the whole series. 

For the rest of the game, the Astros’ offense could not be stopped. With the score at 3-1, they scored another four runs throughout the rest of the game. 

The icing on top of the Astros’ offensive cake was when Jose Altuve hit a monster, three-run home run to left field. 

This happened after Altuve had been hit by a pitch the last time he was up to bat, causing a burst of cheering from the White Sox fans who had been booing him every time he came up to bat. 

The ALDS closed out what was one of the best seasons of baseball the White Sox have had in a long time. With all of the young and rising talent that they have, there is no doubt that this is the first of many playoff appearances in the coming years.

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