The A’s started the game dominant, but barely managed to hang on against the Chicago White Sox, narrowly avoiding elimination by a score of 5-3.
The Oakland Athletics not only bounced back well, but the A’s played like the team that was the number 2 seed, and possibly changed the momentum in the playoffs. Virtually unidentifiable from the team who only got three hits yesterday, the A’s came out aggressive and fearless. With the win, the A’s also ended their gruesome six straight losses in the postseason.
Behind an aggressive offense and shutdown pitching led by Chris Bassitt, the A’s will fight to see yet another day- and get the opportunity to not only stave off elimination but can give themselves the opportunity to move on to Los Angeles and play their division rivals, the Houston Astros, in the ALDS.
The A’s came out ready to play early on, and they seemed to understand the stakes of this high stakes game. Giving Chicago a taste of their own medicine, the A’s hit two homers early in the game, and came out swinging. Clearly, there was a shift in the gameplan for Oakland as the A’s definitely showed a more aggressive strategy going into the game, and were not waiting around for two strike gifts. As the A’s started to break into the game early, they seemed to get more comfortable. Marcus Semien hit his first home run of the postseason off a 0-0 sinker, and Matt Olson was able to score two runs off an 1-1 sinker. Also, the A’s finally seemed to get some production out of Khris Davis, hitting a solo shot off Keuchel in the fifth inning. Overall the A’s just looked more like themselves, and found their offensive mojo.
Chicago White Sox
Chicago started flat but ended the game very impressive, and while they managed to collect more hits than the Athletics in this game, they also got some very bad breaks, and overall put a lot of pressure on the A’s this game. Tim Anderson once again led the way, going 3-5 for the White Sox.
However, the White Sox just seemed to have no answer for Chris Bassitt, and were completely shut down throughout the first seven innings, with the exception of two runners on in the third inning. But in the eight inning on, it was a different story. The Chicago White Sox looked like the aggressive team that began the series, with Yasmani Grandal smashing yet another home run in the eighth inning, putting the pressure on the Athletics late. Unfortunately for the White Sox, it was too little too late, but their offensive performance was nothing to be ashamed of, and even though they struggled early, there were many factors that were outside of their control that shaped the game, like Mark Canha’s play at the wall in the 3rd, or the terrible Nomar Mazara strike call that threw off the White Sox momentum in the 8th inning. For the White Sox, it’s very encouraging to see the team continue to put offensive pressure on the Athletics, and if they keep that up tomorrow they might be the team heading to Los Angeles next.
Bassitt is arguably not only the story for the A’s, but also the story of the year. He went into this season just barely making the team as a fourth starter after working out of the bullpen last season, but he has turned out to be a dominant starter and has turned into the A’s ace after an amazing season. This game, just like the season went amazing for Bassitt, and it was a postseason gem. He went seven innings and gave up six hits, one run and five strikeouts.
Two Words- Mark Canha. While Bassitt may have been the star of the show for Oakland, Canha was definitely a key figure in this game and possibly saved the A’s season. In the third inning, Chicago had two on with no out and were looking to put some runs on the board. Yoan Moncada hit a deep opposite field drive that went all the way to the wall and Mark Canha made a leaping catch to get the first out of the inning and keep the runners where they were. Ultimately, that play changed the course of the inning, as Bassitt was able to pitch his way out of that stressful inning and get out of the jam. Watch the catch in all its glory down below.
Caught by Canha. 😱 pic.twitter.com/IcHiobzdb9
— MLB (@MLB) September 30, 2020
A’s fans today were on the edge of their seat, as a usually rock solid bullpen allowed three runs and four hits late in the game. The manager for the A’s, Bob Melvin made the gutsy call of sending the closer, Liam Hendricks out to the mound in the eighth inning and Hendricks really struggled throughout his outing, missing the zone and leaving many pitches out and over the plate. After Hendricks walked the bases full in the ninth, the game almost turned into a disaster, but luckily Melvin called in Jake Diekman, who was able to save the day, inducing a ground ball to end the game.
Chicago White Sox
Ironically, Dallas Keuchel came into the game as the postseason veteran and was expected to be a dominant force that would put the pressure on the A’s. However, as the game progressed, it was clear he was everything but that. Keuchel not only seemed to lose 2-3 mph from his regular average, clocking in around 85-87 mph, but he left many of his pitches directly over the plate including his usually deadly sinker, as all the A’s runs came off his sinker, which not only was slower but failed to have that sinking action, and remained up in the zone.
As for the defense, the Chicago White Sox made two errors today, and not only were the errors sloppy, but one of those errors ended up not only shifting the momentum of the game and the score, but possibly the series as the A’s finally realized that the White Sox weren’t invincible. Nick Madrigal, the second basemen for the White Sox gave up a crucial error that plated two runs for the A’s.
The A’s stayed alive against the White Sox- but just barely, thanks to some bad calls against the Chicago White Sox that benefited them, an error that the White Sox committed, an amazing performance by Chris Bassitt, and an exceptional A’s offense and defense.
But tomorrow is what it all comes down to, and expect all hands on deck for the A’s. Given the success of White Sox hitters off Left-Handed Pitching, expect Mike Fiers (or possibly Sean Manaea) to pitch for the A’s, and either Dylan Cease or Dylan Dunning to pitch for the White Sox. Either way, it’s all hands on deck for both teams in the series finale, and one team will move on and one team will go home.