Sox' ‘tough-minded’ comeback extends ALDS vs. Astros originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal didn’t flinch at the lopsided score, pulling Michael Kopech aside in the dugout after the long reliver gave up a home run in the top of the third inning.
“I told him, ‘I've been here before. We're going to come back and we're going to win it,’” Grandal recounted Sunday night. “I don't think he really believed me until he saw that we actually came back.”
It turned out, Grandal was right. The White Sox beat the Astros 12-6 in Game 3 of the American League Division Series to avoid elimination. With the lopsided win, the White Sox forced a Game 4 and have the chance to tie up the series at home Monday afternoon.
White Sox manager Tony La Russa had been talking all series about his team’s refusal to quit fighting. But things looked bleak heading into the bottom of the third inning on Sunday.
The White Sox trailed by four runs, starting pitcher Dylan Cease had only lasted 1 2/3 innings, and the South Siders’ power bats still hadn’t logged an extra-base hit in the postseason.
“We've had plenty of games during the year where we've been down early by a lot of runs, and we've been able to come back and take the lead,” Grandal said. “So, today was no different.”
Grandal didn’t just predict the comeback. He jump-started it, in an at-bat that summed up the White Sox’ never-give-up attitude.
With a runner on first and one out, Grandal fell behind in the count, 0-2, against Astros starting pitcher Luis Garcia. Then, Grandal watched three straight balls and fouled off an inside fastball.
The seventh pitch of the at-bat was a changeup up in the zone. Grandal reached out and sent it the other way, over the left field fence and into the White Sox bullpen.
“My approach was pretty much either get the ball in the air or try and get on base,” he said. “Obviously, they're playing the first (two) games just to make sure they got me on the ground. … I was just able to get a good swing on it, barrel it, and get it in the air like I came into the day thinking about (doing) and hitting it out.”
Grandal’s homer, the White Sox’ first extra-base hit of the postseason, cut the White Sox’ deficit into a palatable size: two runs. Then, Leury García erased it with a three-run homer in the same inning.
When the Astros tied up the game in the next inning, the White Sox countered with a three-run rally, wreaking havoc with a string of sharp ground balls.
“That’s how things usually happen our way,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said of the White Sox’ comeback, “and it happened their way tonight.”
“Nothing” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “I mean, same way it was in Houston. … It's really a tough-minded bunch, and sometimes you get rewarded with a comeback like that, but it's just the way we've been. We know we got some offense, and if we can hold them down, we know we got a shot. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't, but, I mean, it was electric in that dugout. Nobody was giving in.”
The White Sox added insurance runs in the eighth inning, as closer Liam Hendriks warmed up in the bullpen to put the finishing touches on a strong showing from the bullpen. Fallout Boy’s ‘My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark’ blared over the speakers, and Hendriks stood on the mound pumping his fist along to the beat with the raucous crowd.
White Sox fans had started the night jeering “cheat-er, cheat-er” at Astros hitters. But by the final inning, when Hendriks took the field, they’d chosen a new chant.
“Sox in five. Sox in five. Sox in five.”
The White Sox, with their backs against the wall, had made believers of their screaming fans, too.