TA sets record for hits in first 5 playoff games

October 10th, 2021

HOUSTON -- White Sox shortstop loves the big stage, and it’s been apparent through his first five career postseason games.

With three knocks in Chicago's 9-4 loss to the Astros in Game 2 of the American League Division Series on Friday afternoon, Anderson set an MLB record with 13 hits through his first five playoff games.

Anderson tied the mark with his first two hits of the game off Astros lefty Framber Valdez, matching Edgar Martinez, Marquis Grissom, Ichiro Suzuki and Carlos González. He broke the record in the ninth, when he singled into right field past a lunging Jose Altuve. He also tied a record for the most hits in any five-game span in postseason history, joining Hideki Matsui, Fernando Viña and Will Clark. He has three-hit efforts in four of his five career postseason contests.

But Anderson’s strong showing at the plate hasn’t led to a win for the White Sox, who are down 0-2 in the five-game series, which heads to Chicago for Game 3 on Sunday.

“Our backs are against the wall right now,” Anderson said. “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.”

Anderson isn’t the only Chicago hitter off to a strong start offensively. José Abreu went 2-for-4 with an RBI single and also has a hit in all five of his postseason games. Luis Robert went 3-for-4 with a walk and an RBI, and at age 24, he became the youngest White Sox player with a three-hit game in the postseason. Chicago outhit Houston, 11-10, but all 11 knocks were singles. It was the first time that a team had at least 11 hits but no extra-base hits in a postseason game since the Brewers did it in Game 3 of the 2008 NL Division Series.

But Anderson still thought it was a good sign to see the White Sox put together 11 hits after faring well against Houston’s bullpen late in the loss in Game 1.

“We pay attention to all the hits,” Anderson said. “We know what kind of ballclub we are. We know what we can do, and there's no pressure. No moment is too big. We've just got to keep battling and keep picking one another up, and enjoy the moment.”

Anderson started his stretch with an incredible showing against the A's in last year's AL Wild Card Series, going 9-for-14 with two doubles. He also went 1-for-4 with a single in Game 1 on Thursday.

Anderson grounded out in the first inning with Carlos Correa robbing him of a hit up the middle, but he showed off his speed in the third, reaching on an infield single to short off Valdez. He clocked a sprint speed of 31.5 feet per second, which is well above the elite mark of 30 feet per second.

“I know where these guys play me,” Anderson said. “They usually play me up the middle. I knew I had to get down the line and try to beat it out. Nothing is given at this moment. They're not going to give me anything. I have to earn it, and I understand that.”

In the fifth, Anderson helped spark a three-run rally with a one-out single after Leury García led off the frame with a single. Anderson laced his single into center; with an exit velocity of 109.3 mph, it was his third-hardest-hit base hit this season. He later scored on an RBI single from Abreu.

The Astros, however, rallied for five runs in the seventh to take a four-run lead. Anderson gave the White Sox some life with a single in the ninth after a walk by César Hernández. But Hernández and Anderson were stranded to end the game when Robert, Abreu and Yasmani Grandal couldn’t capitalize.

Anderson, though, thinks that heading back to Guaranteed Rate Field will help the White Sox turn the series around. They were a much better team at home this year, going 53-28, compared to 40-41 on the road. Anderson also hit .325/.354/.498 in 64 games at home this year, while batting .293/.320/.438 on the road.

“Ain't nothing like being at home,” Anderson said. “I can't wait to get back. It's going to be the first [playoff game at Guaranteed Rate Field] since 2008. So I'm pretty sure the place is going to be rocking.”