BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER
The A’s finally got the playoff monkey off their backs Wednesday afternoon, jumping out to an early lead and riding seven strong innings from Chris Bassitt before holding on to force a deciding game in their wild card series against the White Sox with a 5-3 victory.
Unlike Game 1 yesterday, and their single game wild card game losses to the Yankees in 2018 and Tampa last year, the A’s got finally got solid pitching and were able to avoid falling behind early and needing to play catch-up.
Bassitt was dominating in his first postseason appearance, only allowing five hits and a walk thru seven shutout innings before being replaced by Liam Hendriks after giving up a lead-off single to Tim Anderson to open the eighth. Thankfully the A’s offense provided five runs to work with as Hendriks was uncharacteristically wild, giving up a home run to Yasmani Grandal that scored Anderson, then loading the bases with two outs in the ninth before being replaced by Jake Diekman. After walking in a run that Hendriks put on base, Diekman got Jose Abreu to ground out to seal the victory and record a save.
Offensively, the A’s jumped on Chicago starter Dallas Keuchel early with first inning singles by Tommy LaStella, Ramon Laureano and Chad Pinder to load the bases. A fielding error by White Sox second baseman Nick Madrigal allowed LaStella and Laureano to score, giving Oakland its first lead in a postseason game since 2014.
Oakland would double its lead to 4-0 in the following inning as Marcus Semien followed a Sean Murphy single with a line drive home run over the centerfield fence. In the fourth, DH Khris Davis, coming off the worst season of his career, also drove a Keuchel pitch over the wall in center to stretch the A’s lead to 5-0.
Keuchel lasted only 3.1 innings, giving up five runs (three earned) on six hits along with the two home runs while striking out four. Grandal and Anderson each had three hits for Chicago.
Neither team has announced a starting pitcher for Game 3, but the opening pitch is scheduled for 12:00pm with the winner advancing to the ALDS for a five-game series against the Houston Astros at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
The A’s snapped their six game postseason losing streak, which matched a franchise record, with Wednesday’s win.
Bassitt was named the American League’s pitcher of the month for September after going 3-0 with a 0.34 ERA in four starts. He allowed just one run in 26.2 innings.
Wednesday’s game was the 60th postseason game played at the Coliseum. Only the original Yankee Stadium, Dodger Stadium and Fenway Park have hosted more.
Chicago’s Tim Anderson became the fourth White Sox player with consecutive three-hit games in the postseason, joining Tim Raines (1993 AL Championship Series Games 3-4), Nellie Fox (1959 World Series Games 3-4) and Frank Isbell (1906 World Series Games 5-6).
The White Sox are 15-0 against left-handers this year.