White Sox starter Lucas Giolito kept the A’s hitless through six full innings as the Chicago long ball helped lift Chicago over the Oakland A’s 4-1 Tuesday in the first game of the AL Wild Card series.
Thankfully for Oakland, this year it’s a three-game series. The A’s need to win Wednesday and force a Game 3, or they can kiss their season goodbye.
The White Sox quickly showed what damage their lineup can do against left-handed pitching. Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu both singled off Jésus Luzardo in the first but were left stranded on the corners after James McCann struck out to end the inning.
Adam Engel‘s first postseason at-bat was a solo home run to left field to give the White Sox an early 1-0 lead in the second.
Tim Anderson led off the third inning with another single. Jake Lamb made two great plays at third to get two outs before Jose Abreu crushed a bomb into the left-field seats to make it 3-0. Luzardo struck out McCann to end the inning, which is how he ended the first inning when runners were on the corners.
When asked about using a left-handed starter for a possible third game Melvin responded:
“We still need to get past tomorrow and then we will think of Game 3 but we knew going in, we could see the numbers. I am not sure they faced too many guys that threw with the velocity that Luzardo did but they had a good approach on him across the board.”
Engel doubled off the wall of left field for a one-out double in the fourth before Luzardo was relieved by J.B Wendelken. In 3 1/3-innings, Luzardo allowed 6 hits, two homers and struck out five without any walks and stepped off the mound trailing 3-0.
Luzardo missed two spots and it cost him. He left the ball more over the middle than he wanted to and knows he made a mistake in his location:
“Two mistakes, two home runs. Obviously it’s a team that hits a lot of home runs and they capitalized on those two mistakes, I feel like my pitches were pretty good other than that.”
Melvin on Luzardo:
“He just centered some balls that they hit hard. He had pretty good stuff, he had five strikeouts, he didn’t walk anybody. Early on he wasn’t getting strike one, wasnt getting 1-1 counts and getting back ahead, when he threw the ball down the middle of the plate they had some good swings.”
Giolito retired the first 18 batters and kept the A’s quiet. He needed fewer and fewer pitches each inning and was perfect through the first seven. Tommy La Stella was the first hit on the A’s side, a leadoff single up the middle on the Giolito’s 77th pitch. La Stella broke up the perfect game but, Giaolito retired the next three batters.
Melvin spoke about what an excellent job Giolito did:
“We knew he would be tough. Looking at some of his previous outings, you could get his pitch count up a little bit, foul some balls off, and make him work. That was kind of our plan but it didn’t work out that way for us. He was on us right away, threw strikes, kept us off balance, threw his change up and his slider, he pitched really well.”
La Stella explained what made Giolito so hard on Tuesday, and spoke about what is to come:
“He threw the ball extremely well, all game. … We like where we are at, we took some good swings today and didn’t find holes and they took some good swings and obviously hit the ball out of the yard.”
Wendelken only needed 11 pitches for a perfect fifth, the first inning without a Sox hit. He allowed a hit to Luis Robert but got out of the sixth striking out home run hitter Engel who was 2-for-2 off the left-handed starter. Wendelken was relieved in the seventh after going 2 2/3 innings and only gave up one hit, struck out three and kept the White Sox scoreless.
Melvin on the bullpen:
“Ya, once the post season comes around these guys (bullpen) will be able to pitch three days in a row. We are just trying to keep it as close as we possibly can, bullpen did a great job obviously Wendelken did a fantastic job. Less maybe Wendelken tomorrow but we will still feel like we have a full bullpen.”
Yusmeiro Petit pitched the seventh inning and gave up a two-out double to Anderson but kept the White Sox scoreless in 14 pitches with a strikeout. Joakim Soria came in for the eighth and on a full-count gave up a bomb to the first batter he faced, Yasmani Grandal, to make it 4-0 before he retired the next three batters.
LHP Jake Diekman was warming up the second Abreu followed Grandal’s homer with a fly ball deep to right field about five feet short of back-to-back homers. Diekman pitched the ninth down 4-1 and threw the second and final A’s perfect inning of the game.
Melvin touched on what needs to happen in tomorrow’s do or die game:
“We wanted a series, we lost the first game of it, now it is time for us to respond well tomorrow. We are going to have to do more offensively, we cant score one run and think we are going to win tomorrow and put that much pressure on our starters.”
The A’s one and only run came in the eighth inning. Giolito walked Mark Canha on his 98th pitch of the day to lead off the eighth inning. The White Sox had their first mound visit of the game before Lamb followed with a line drive single to right to put runners on the corners with no outs.
Unstoppable all game, Giolito was relieved by Evan Marshall. Ramon Laureano hit into a fielder’s choice to make it 4-1. Sean Murphy lined a single to center before LHP Aaron Bummer came out to record the final out, needing only two pitches to do so.
Luzardo said he is not worried about the team tomorrow:
“I have no doubt in this team. … We don’t let that get in this clubhouse whatever is said negatively about our team we don’t let it get in our heads. I know Bassitt is going to go out there and dominate tomorrow and the hitters are gonna hit and we will go to Game 3 and see what happens.”
Chris Bassitt will try to keep his team from being disqualified in the first round and a righty may be what does it, aside from Bassitt’s consistent great starts. The White Sox will start LHP Dallas Keuchel in hopes of ending the series.