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Good morning, frents!
One of the things I find crazy about the MLB postseason every year is that some teams can be down 2-0 before other series even start.
Let's hope the Sox aren't in that boat by the time the NLDS begins.
Astros 6, Sox 1
Wild 3, Hawks 2 (OT)*
Sox at Astros (1:07, MLBN)
Pelicans at Bulls (7, NBCSCH)*
Wild at Blackhawks (7:30, NBCSCH)*
Bears at Raiders (3, CBS)
Fire at New England (6, WGN)
Bulls at Cleveland (6, NBCSCH)*
Red Stars at OL Reign (6, Paramount+)
Astros at Sox (7, FS1)
Move on — or move out
Just tip your hat and call the Astros your daddy.
That's a slight paraphrase from a classic Pedro Martinez quote and it's about all the White Sox can do after Thursday's thud against Houston in Game 1 of the ALDS.
Indeed, the 6-1 loss to the Astros has the potential to put the team in serious trouble before the series even returns to Chicago.
Unless, of course, Lucas Giolito and a handful of Sox hitters can rebound this afternoon and tie the series by doing what Lance McCullers and the Astros just did to them.
That's more than possible and we'll talk more about why in just a minute.
But let's first run down the performance the Sox must outrun.
- The Sox lineup was as maddening and hopeless as the Bears with the ball in Cleveland. It managed only four hits off McCullers and couldn't draw a single walk off the pitcher who led the major league in walks during the regular season. McCullers earned 13 of his 20 outs against the Sox via ground balls and four more came from strikeouts. Putting the ball in the air three times against the starter ... not optimal.
- Lynn's performance was as profane as what usually comes out of his mouth walking off the mound. He gave up five earned runs in 3 2/3 innings, almost matching the six runs he gave up to the Astros in Houston during the regular season. Two walks and a wild pitch didn't help matters. The first half ace of the Sox staff just put an incredible amount of pressure on Giolito, Dylan Cease and whatever's left in Carlos Rodon's left arm.
The tendency after any postseason loss is to set upon individual performances and I saw some of that after Thursday's disappointment. Tony La Russa's decision to start Lance Lynn in Houston's house of horrors ranked high as a target — as did his choice to have Lynn pitch to Michael Brantley with first base open and two outs in the fourth.
That second criticism is valid after Brantley stroked a two-run single to blow the game open at 5-0, but it can be saved for the series post-mortem.
The first? Well, anyone suggesting Dylan Cease should've started a game at Minute Maid Park is lying if they claim they said it before Thursday's dinnertime.
Here's the reality: The Sox went into Houston needing at least one win against a super-powered Astros lineup that is decidedly not the Twins, Indians, Royals or Tigers. Lynn crumbled during his chance; Giolito still has his turn and two upcoming travel days will leave him available for an if-necessary Game 5.
Giolito can get the job done. It was his brilliant seven innings in last postseason's opener in Oakland that left Sox fans optimistic they'd take the best-of-three series.
That didn't end up happening as the rest of the Sox slumped and the A's inadvertently gave this year's Sox a lesson that losing Game 1 doesn't have to be a big deal. (A lesson that many Sox fans did not digest given their reaction to the loss.)
While Giolito's uneven first half of 2021 knocked his name off the top of the rotation's marquee, he had a stronger second half with a 2.65 ERA over 13 starts. The run started with a complete game against these same Astros on July 17. Giolito allowed only three hits and one run in the 10-1 win. That game came on the South Side, but he's also posted a 1.57 ERA in three career starts at Minute Maid.
The Sox lineup, meanwhile, gets to face lefthander Framber Valdez. He was hittable in both of his starts against the team this season and the Sox lineup probably won't stay down for long.
Actually, strike that: They don't have a choice to do anything but mash as much as Gioltio requires. Only 10 teams have come down from an 0-2 deficit in a five-game series since the format was introduced in 1969. The 1984 Cubs can tell you about one of them.
The Sox should act now, though. McCullers and Lynn already made things hard enough after the first pitching matchup of Lances in baseball history; there's no reason to increase the degree of difficulty.
“I'm definitely not as nervous as I was last year. The nerves kind of ended up working in my favor, kept me focused. But having experience in anything is going to make you more prepared for the next time you do it.” — Lucas GiolitoGet Midway Minute in your inbox
Saturday's college games
• Wisconsin (-8.5) at Illinois (11 am, BTN): The 1-3 Badgers versus the 2-4 Illini. Not exactly a premiere matchup for the Bret Bielema reunion game, but it'll have to do.
• #14 Notre Dame (-1) at Virginia Tech (6:30, ACCN): The Irish likely saw their playoff hopes end with last weekend's loss to Cincinnati; now they'll have to play a night game in front of a tough Blacksburg crowd.
• Northern Illinois (+12.5) at Toledo (11, CBS Sports Network): Tough test on the road for the Huskies. Both teams are 3-2.
• Northwestern BYE
1. The Wiener's Circle is offering free hot dogs for a day if the Bulls miss the playoffs this year. WGN-TV
2. The Bulls are back to wearing white at home. As it should be. NBC Chicago
3. 18 formers NBA players were arrested and charged with fraud relating to the league's healthcare plan. Several of them have Illinois ties, including Darius Miles, Melvin Ely, Shannon Brown and Tony Allen. Sun-Times
4. Annie Costabile with a good look at how this year's Sky team was built. Sun-Times
5. John Greenfield pitches an ambitious plan to build a bicycle superhighway in all parts of the city. Chicago Reader