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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

White Sox-Astros just got interesting


Whoops.
Illustration: Getty Images

It was a weird one on the Southside. The story of Dusty Baker being a goofus when the postseason comes has faded over the years, even if some still reach for it. He’s learned how the game has changed in the past decade. He just can’t seem to catch a break.

He must’ve been having flashbacks to 2017, when he completely defensibly brought Max Scherzer out of the pen to pitch in Game 5 of the Division Series, and then watched the Cubs collect a bunch of bleeders and wheezers that essentially deflated on their way out of the infield that won the Cubs the game.

Bringing in Yimi Garcia to relieve Luis Garcia when Leury Garcia had a 2-0 count is not the kind of thing we see often, but in playoff baseball you’d rather act too soon than too late and Luis Garcia definitely was hinting that he might not find the planet again. Maybe he should have just walked Leury intentionally to give Yimi a clean batter, but loading the bases intentionally isn’t considered swift thinking either.

Again, bringing in Zack Greinke in the middle of an inning when he’s always been a starter looks awkward in a vacuum. But Greinke induced three ground balls that either just found holes or, when they were fielded, ended in the crazy play of Yuli Gurriel’s throw shanking off Yasmani Grandal. The results make the decision look worse as Houston lost Game 3, 12-6, but the wonderful/maddening thing about baseball is that nothing is ever the way it seems.

The biggest advantage the Chisox have over the Astros in this series is their pen over the Astros’ pen, as they displayed when Ryan Tepera, Aaron Bummer, and Liam Hendriks struck out nine in the 14 outs they got combined against the team that strikes out the least in MLB. Only Tepera and Kopech would be normally considered down for Game 4, and with the Sox still facing elimination, that probably doesn’t apply either. If the Sox can turn Game 4 into a long one where starters leave early (theirs will regardless, considering what Carlos Rodon is capable of now), they might just earn a flight back to Houston.

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