HOUSTON -- With their backs against the wall, the White Sox will return home, where they had the best record in the American League in the regular season, to try to avoid being swept by the Astros in the AL Division Series.
“Our backs are against the wall right now,” White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson said after Game 2. “We know what we've got to do, and we've got to take care of business. We have to keep fighting and keep pushing. And we competed. We competed at a high level. We know things will get better. It's good to head back home for sure.”
The Astros, behind their relentless offense and terrific defense, are one win away from advancing to the AL Championship Series for the fifth consecutive year.
“We have to act like we're going in there 0-0, because we're going into very hostile territory,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “They beat us in Chicago two out of three [in July]. So we've got work to do. These guys aren't going to rest on their laurels, because we haven't accomplished anything yet.”
When is the game and how can I watch it?
The game will air on FS1 at 7:07 p.m. CT Sunday. It is also available to stream on MLB.TV with authentication.
What are the starting lineups?
Astros: Despite winning each of the first two games of the series by five runs and racking up 10 hits in each game, the Astros will sport a slightly different lineup in Game 3. Yuli Gurriel slides down to No. 7, with Carlos Correa and Kyle Tucker jumping up a spot to Nos. 5 and 6, respectively. Houston is hitting .308 against the White Sox in the series, including 8-for-19 with runners in scoring position.
White Sox: Right-hander Luis Garcia takes the mound for Houston, so Gavin Sheets will be back at designated hitter for the White Sox. Manager Tony La Russa opted for Leury García in right, over Andrew Vaughn, aiming for more power after Chicago was held without an extra-base hit in the first two games.
Who are the starting pitchers?
Astros: Garcia (11-8, 3.30 ERA), a candidate for the AL Rookie of the Year Award, will make his second career postseason start. Garcia blew through his previous career high by throwing 155 1/3 innings this year (and had 167 strikeouts). He pitched beyond five innings only five times in his final 12 starts. Garcia averaged only 82.4 pitches in those five outings as the Astros pulled back on his workload.
“We were well aware of the Garcia situation,” pitching coach Brent Strom said. “He had hit 100 innings [one time] prior to this. I think he's got 155 now, something in that neighborhood. But if you notice during the season, very rarely did he throw over 80 pitches -- 80, 85 pitches. There were a couple of games, the Dodger game where he beat [Trevor] Bauer [on May 26], which stands out as one of the highlights of the season for me.”
White Sox: Dylan Cease was Chicago’s No. 3 starter for most of the abbreviated 2020 season, but he was passed over for a playoff start against the A’s. In reality, Cease didn’t feel like he deserved one, and he worked diligently to refine his craft over the offseason. That led to Cease racking up 226 strikeouts in 2021, which ranked third in the AL.
With the White Sox season on the line, he takes the mound on Sunday for his first playoff start.
“I'm still very excited. The stakes are high. I'm just grateful that we have the opportunity, honestly,” Cease said. “You know, we are learning ourselves. I think we're going in with the mindset that we're just going to take it pitch by pitch and bring our best.”
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Astros: A day off should help reset a bullpen that has seen setup man Kendall Graveman, closer Ryan Pressly and Phil Maton each work in the first two games of the ALDS. Baker is hoping for six innings from Garcia before lining up Ryne Stanek, Graveman and Pressly to pitch in the seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively, with a lead.
In Game 2, it was Pressly who worked the eighth and Graveman who worked the ninth, which Baker explained: “Pressly was already loose to come in in a one-run ball game at the time. If you get the other guy, Graveman, up in a hurry, his heart's pumping, and then you got to get Pressly back up again in the ninth after he was cold. And the hitters they had coming up were fastball hitters. Pressly has an outstanding slider, so it was a situation where we know when we've got Graveman, that those two guys could be interchangeable between setup and close. Plus, Pressly had been a setup man before. So he's very familiar with that situation.”
White Sox: Michael Kopech should be ready to go multiple innings at any moment. La Russa made clear on Friday they weren’t saving Kopech for Game 3.
“We were going to play the game today, and if we needed him to win the game, we would have pitched him,” La Russa said Friday after Game 2. “But whatever happens on Sunday, we've got his length there. That's another big asset for us. We didn't have to waste it.”
Are there any relievers who are unavailable?
White Sox: Garrett Crochet pitched in the first two games of the series. Even with Saturday’s off-day, the rookie southpaw figures to be out -- or at least limited -- on Sunday.
Any injuries of note?
White Sox: None.
Who is hot and who is not?
Astros: Brantley has a 13-game playoff hitting streak, during which he’s batting .352 (19-for-54) with a home run and three RBIs. The streak dates back to Game 1 of the 2020 ALDS. Altuve has an 11-game postseason hitting streak, during which he’s batting .474 (18-for-38) with five home runs and eight RBIs. The streak dates back to Game 3 of 2020 ALDS.
White Sox: Anderson has 13 hits in his first five career playoff games, dating back to 2020, setting a new Major League record. Anderson, Robert and Abreu each have at least one hit in all five of their career playoff games, and Robert is 5-for-7 against the Astros over the first two games of this series.
Anything else fans might want to know?
La Russa has lost five straight playoff games with the White Sox, with the first three coming in 1983 during an ALCS loss to the Orioles ... The White Sox have been swept in one playoff series (2000 ALDS vs. Seattle) ... Gurriel is the all-time leader in MLB postseason hits (52) and RBIs (27) of any Cuban-born player … Correa’s 52 career playoff RBIs are second among active players, behind only Albert Pujols (54 entering Friday's game vs. the Giants).