‘A fun ride’ for White Sox ends short of ultimate goal after Game 4 loss in ALDS: ‘It hurts, but ... we’re only going to grow from it’

By LaMond Pope

CHICAGO — There were selfies and hugs among players and their family members Tuesday evening at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Only the celebration didn’t involve the Chicago White Sox.

A season that began with lofty expectations ended well short of the ultimate goal for the Sox, who were eliminated from the playoffs with a 10-1 loss to the Houston Astros in Game 4 of the American League Division Series.

The Astros took the lead on a two-out, two-run double by Carlos Correa in the third inning and didn’t look back to win the best-of-five series 3-1. They advance to play the Boston Red Sox in the AL Championship Series.

As for the White Sox, it’s a tough finish to a year with a lot of promise and growth.

“We accomplished the first goal, but we are disappointed to get one win and not two more, so bittersweet,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “We’re hurting for them, but it’s an amazing group.”

The Sox made several offseason moves — including hiring Hall of Fame manager La Russa for a second stint — with an eye on taking the next step after being eliminated in an AL wild-card series by the Oakland Athletics in 2020.

They made consecutive playoff appearances for the first time in franchise history after overcoming many injuries and running away with the AL Central. But for the second straight year, they couldn’t advance past their first playoff series.

“Obviously right now it sucks, it hurts,” said designated hitter Gavin Sheets, who homered in the second for the lone Sox run, “but to be able to have this experience my rookie year, I only think I can grow from it. And as a team, the same way, we’re only going to grow from it.”

Starting pitching was a huge Sox strength during the regular season. The success didn’t carry over to the playoffs. None of the four ALDS starters — Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease and Carlos Rodón — made it out of the fifth inning.

Lynn exited after allowing five runs in 3 2/3 innings in a 6-1 loss in Game 1. Giolito lasted 4 1/3 innings and surrendered four runs in a 9-4 loss in Game 2. Cease was out after allowing three runs in 1 2/3 innings in Game 3, which the Sox rallied to win 12-6.

Rodón was a question mark entering the postseason because of arm fatigue and soreness that became an issue late in the season. He gave it his all and his fastball reached 99 mph in the first inning, electrifying the lively home crowd of 40,170.

“I knew a couple of days ago I felt pretty close to normal,” Rodón said.

Rodón ran into trouble in the third, hitting José Altuve with a pitch and issuing back-to-back two-out walks to Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez to load the bases.

The Sox had right-hander Michael Kopech warming. But La Russa decided to stick with the lefty Rodón to face the right-handed-hitting Correa, who hit an 0-2 pitch to left for a double to give the Astros a 2-1 lead.

That was the final batter for Rodón, who allowed two runs on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings.

The Astros added three runs in the fourth, which featured a two-out, two-run double by Bregman against reliever Garrett Crochet to make it 5-1. Kopech was charged with three runs in two-thirds of an inning.

“Count the number of RBIs that we gave up with two outs (eight) and couldn’t get that last out,” La Russa said. “Big difference maker.”

The Sox faced a four-run deficit early before bouncing back to win Game 3. They couldn’t duplicate the feat Tuesday.

One of those key players, center fielder Luis Robert, left the game after the sixth inning with right leg tightness.

The Astros tacked on runs in the sixth and eighth with RBI singles by Michael Brantley. Altuve hit a three-run home run in the ninth to the dismay of the packed crowd.

The Astros advanced to the ALCS for the fifth straight season. The Sox took away some valuable lessons.

“Last year we got to the wild card; this year we won the division,” Sheets said. “We’re just going to continue to grow. Going to the offseason, we’re all going to be talking about the atmosphere.”

With a mix of youth and experience on offense and on the mound, the Sox have the talent to build off their first division title since 2008.

“It was a fun ride, just ended up a little bit short,” Rodón said. “A lot of good things happened. A lot of people proved some people wrong.”

The test becomes finding a way to get over the next hurdle for an extended postseason appearance.

“It’s a learning experience for all of us,” Sheets said. “We got a big taste of what it’s like to play at home in the playoffs. I don’t think anybody is going to forget (Tuesday) and Sunday night. What it was like, the crowd, the blackout, the support. That burns a fire. That makes you want to do it again — with a different outcome.”


What is inkl?

Important stories

See news based on value, not advertising potential. Get the latest news from around the world.

Trusted newsrooms

We bring you reliable news from the world’s most experienced journalists in the most trusted newsrooms.

Ad-free reading

Read without interruptions, distractions or intrusions of privacy.