CHICAGO – The White Sox are still standing after a four and a half hour slugfest with the Astros in Game 3 Sunday night.
It started out grim for the South Siders. Houston knocked around Dylan Cease in the shortest outing of his career to the tune of three earned on two hits and three walks in one and two-thirds innings.
After serving up a two-run blast to Kyle Tucker, Michael Kopech settled down in relief. He may have had some magic on his side thanks to a cane-wielding Sox fan.
The offense came alive in the third, when Yasmani Grandal ripped the Sox first extra base hit of the series over the wall in left to cut the lead to two. A few batters later, Leury Garcia added to his legendary status, cracking his first postseason homer to the batters eye to put the Sox on top 6-5.
Alex Bregman tied it for Houston in the fourth, which saw a combined 17 batters come to the plate. Jose Abreu broke the tie in the bottom of the inning before unusual series of events unfolded.
It began with Grandal running inside the base path on a tapper to first. The ensuing throw home grazed Grandal’s shoulder just enough to redirect it away from the catcher, allowing Luis Robert to score. No interference was called despite Dusty Baker’s pleas with the umps.
Eloy Jimenez rounded out the inning with another insurance run on a slow dribbler down the third base line that only stayed fair but allowed him to reach first base safely.
Andrew Vaughn, Leury Garcia, and Tim Anderson tacked on three more in the 9th to make it 12-6, helping set a Sox franchise record with 16 postseason hits.
That gave the bullpen more than enough breathing room as Ryan Tepera, Aaron Bummer, Craig Kimbrel, and Liam Hendriks retired 15 straight batters to lock down the Sox first home playoff win since 2008.
Carlos Rodón is slated to pitch Game 4 on Monday after being limited down the regular-season stretch because of shoulder soreness and fatigue. The left-hander has a history of arm and shoulder injuries and threw just 28 innings over the final two months of the regular season. But he also played a big role as the White Sox ran away with the division.
Rodón set a career high for wins in going 13-5 with a 2.37 ERA and made his first All-Star team. His 24 starts and 132 2/3 innings are the most for him since 2016, well beyond his totals in the previous two years combined.