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.
“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.
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.
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).
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.