White Sox unable to execute late in season

Brendan Reidy, Courier Staff

Execution. The key element of any sports game, especially in the postseason. Execution is what separates the good from the great. And for my White Sox, the were unable to do that in Games 2 and 3 against the Oakland Atheltics, as they fell two games to one in the Wilcard Card Series.

The Southsiders made their first playoff apperance since 2008 and were looking for their first playoff series win since 2005 when they won the World Series.

The White Sox came into the year having high expectations and so did the fans. Their young core of Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada, Nick Madrigal and Luis Robert are the promising future of the organazation and had high expectations. General Manager Rick Hahn brought in experienced veterans like catcher Yasmani Grandal and former Worlds Series champ Dallas Keuchel, not to forget about superstar Jose Abreu.

With the season being only 60 games long, there was no reason for this roster not to perform at a high level. And for most of the season, the White Sox did just that. As a matter of fact, the White Sox were the best team in the American League.

Then, the last week of the season happened, finishing 2-8 in their last 10 games, including a four game sweep to the Indians. The Sox ended up losing the divison race to the Minnesota Twins and fell all the way to the No. 7 seed.

They were one win away from winning the divison and hosting the Wild Card Series. But, the lack of execution to win ball games gave them a first round match up with the Oakland A’s. 

The final 10 games of the regular season foreshadowed what would happened for the Sox.

In  Game 1 on Tuesday, ace Lucas Giolito was everything the White Sox needed. Giolito pitched seven innings, only giving up one run, and pitched a perfect game through six innings. The Sox got home runs from Adam Engel, Abreu and Grandal to help them to a 4-1 win.

In Game 2 and a chance to move onto the ALDS, the Sox had Keuchel on the mound. Keuchel had his worst outing of the year, giving up five runs in only three and a third of an inning. The former Cy Young winner only gave up one home run in the regular season, but Marcus Semien and Kris Davis both took him deep. The Sox were down 5-0 for most of the game until Grandal hit his second solo home run of the series to cut the lead to four in the eighth. The Sox were unable to get closer a called strike three on Nomar Mazara ended a potentail big inning as they trailed 5-1 heading into
the ninth.

After the first two batters recorded outs, the Sox were able to get the next five base runners in a row to make it a 5-3 ball game, and the perfect person up to bat, the future MVP Abreu. Abreu didn’t waste any time in his at-bat as he swung on the last pitch, but hit it right at the second basemen for the last out of the game, forcing a win or go home Game 3.

The Sox started rookie Dane Dunning but gave him a short leash after giving up two hits in the first. Garrett Crochet, another rookie, came in and got the last out of the first.

Robert hit a home run in the top of the second to score the game’s first run. The Sox took a 3-0 lead in the third thanks to another RBI from Robert, and Mazara hit a double to bring in the third run.

The lead would not last long. With two outs in the fourth, Catcher Sean Murphy took rookie Cody Heuer deep for a two-run shot to pull within one. Manager Ricky Renteria decided to put in Carlos Rodon to replace Heuer. The only problem was Rodon couldn’t get an out and all three batters got on base, including intentionally walking Chad Pinder to load the bases just so they could bring in rookie Matt Foster.

But another mis-read from Renteria, as Heuer walked two in-a-row to give the A’s a 4-3 lead after four.

Mazara would get his second RBI of the game in the top half of the fifth to tie the game up again, but the A’s came right back in the bottom half of the inning, getting a huge two out single from Pinder. The A’s scored all six of their runs with two outs.

After that, both teams would be shutout for the rest of the game.

The White Sox left 12 men stranded on base, including the bases loaded in the seventh, and Abreu grounding out into a double play to end the eighth.

The Sox would get a leadoff single from James McCann in the ninth, but the next three batters would  retire to end the game and season for the Sox.

There is a lot to learn in the offseason with this young team. Obviously it hurts not to win, but the future is bright and the next decade of White Sox baseball is going to be fun to watch.