Giolito’s gem silences A’s bats as Luzardo fails in WC opener

BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER

The A’s stretch of postseason futility continued Tuesday afternoon, falling 4-1 to the Chicago White Sox at the Coliseum in the opening game of the best-of-three AL wild card series.

White Sox starter Lucas Giolito was masterful in his playoff debut, retiring the first 18 batters he faced while taking a perfect game into the seventh inning before Tommy LaStella finally got to him with a come-backer for a lead-off single.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Chicago’s Lucas Giolito delivers a pitch during the White Sox 4-1 win over the A’s at the Coliseum in the opening game of their wild card series Tuesday afternoon. Giolito took a perfect game into the seventh inning and struck out eight while only giving up just two hits and one walk in his postseason debut.

“Looking at some of his previous outings, you could get his pitch count up a little bit and make him work,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “That was the plan. But it didn’t work out that way for us. He was on it right away, threw strikes and kept us off balance.” Giolito only needed 60 pitches to get thru the fifth inning.

The punchless Oakland offense could only muster four base runners on three hits in the game, mounting a serious threat just once in the eighth inning as the A’s continue to chase their first postseason win since 2013, a streak that has now reached six consecutive losses.

The White Sox got to A’s starter Jesus Luzardo for an Adam Engle solo home run in the second. After presumptive AL MVP took Luzardo deep for a two-run homer in the following inning to stretch the lead to 3-0, the ghosts of recent Oakland playoff losses seemed to circulate thru the near empty stadium.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Jose Abreu is greeted at home plate by Tim Anderson following his two-run home run in the third inning of the White Sox 4-1 win over the Athletics in the opening game of their wild card series at the Coliseum Tuesday afternoon.

Chicago showed no signs of big game jitters in their first postseason since 2008, nor did they look anything like the team that finished the season 2-8 while falling from the top of the AL Central to a seventh-seeded wild card.

The White Sox added another run in the eighth on a solo shot by Yasmani Grandal off Joakim Soria before the A’s finally put some traffic on the bases in the bottom of the inning. A lead-off walk to Mark Canha followed by a Jake Lamb single sent Giolito to the showers. A fielders choice ground out by Ramon Laureano brought in Canha, and a Sean Murphy single two batters later brought the tying run to the plate, but Aaron Bummer, Chicago’s second reliever of the inning, got LaStella to hit into a fielders choice to end the threat.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
A’s manager Bob Melvin (L) takes the ball from starter Jesus Luzardo in the fourth inning of the White Sox 4-1 win over Oakland at the Coliseum Tuesday afternoon. Luzardo gave up three runs on five hits while striking out five in 3 1/3 innings on the mound in the series opener.

With their backs once again against the wall, the A’s will try to stave off elimination Wednesday at 12:10pm with Chris Bassitt (5-2, 2.29) taking the ball against Dallas Keuchel (6-2, 1.99).

GAME NOTES:

The A’s are in the postseason for the third year in a row and sixth time in the last nine seasons. Each of the last three have seen them eliminated in single game wild card contests.

Of the 28 players on Oakland’s wild card roster, 20 have postseason experience. Six have played for the A’s in both of their wild card game losses the past two seasons.

About Daniel Gluskoter

Daniel Gluskoter is the Martinez Tribune's national music and sports editor and a Bay Area photojournalist who's work has been featured in Rolling Stone, Time Magazine and Sports Illustrated. He covered the 2008 Presidential campaign as a correspondent for United Press International and has travelled worldwide covering events ranging from numerous Super Bowls and Olympics to Live Aid and the Grammys.

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