Sox boast win one game mantra for Game 3

Return to South Side comes complete with 'Blackout' theme

October 10th, 2021

CHICAGO -- Those fans or pundits across the nation looking for a deep off-day dive from the White Sox on how they can get back into the American League Division Series against the Astros will have to settle for the South Siders’ simplified process while being down, 0-2, in this best-of-five matchup.

“It’s pretty simple: You just have to win tomorrow,” White Sox starter Carlos Rodón said Saturday. “Yesterday was yesterday and that’s in the past. We have to worry about tomorrow and winning; our backs are against the wall. We just lost two games in a hard place to play. Now we get to come home and play at home and they get to see what it’s like to battle our crowd.”

“We have to keep playing the way that we've been playing all season,” said White Sox center fielder Luis Robert, who has a hit in all five of his career playoff games, through interpreter Billy Russo. “Tomorrow, we'll have to find a way to win the game. I don't know what way that is, but we have to find a way to win the game and try to -- to keep it alive for us.”

Win one game. That focus drives the American League Central champions, who won 93 times during the regular season.

Then, if Dylan Cease and the White Sox offense pull off that win, go for No. 2 on Monday afternoon. Fans who watched the first two games at Minute Maid Park, where the Astros have won all six head-to-head contests this season, might believe this challenge is a tough one for manager Tony La Russa’s crew. Maybe darn near improbable, if not impossible.

But a legitimate reason for hope exists for the Sox, and that primary reason has to do with the city of Chicago. The White Sox posted an AL-best 53-28 record at Guaranteed Rate Field this season, and Sunday’s contest marks their first home playoff game since the 2008 ALDS against the Rays.

Home runs could make a big impact for the White Sox. They have hit four or more homers 12 times in 2021, including 10 times since June 30. Those 12 four-plus homer games are tied for the most in franchise history (‘06).

When the White Sox homer, they feature a 79-27 record. They are 43-6 when hitting multiple homers and 14-44 when going homerless, including the two playoff losses. Chicago has knocked out 18 combined hits in those two losses, but none have been for extra bases.

Unseasonably warm temperatures should help Guaranteed Rate Field play hitter friendly. It’s just another comfort of home for the White Sox, who are going one day at a time, while the Astros work to stop them at just one more day.

“I've come back from 0-2 in my career as a manager or as a player,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said. “We've also had a 2-0 lead or a 3-1 lead at different points. You try not to let them get off the mat and get closer to you, so you have to stay after it.”

The Sox had a favorable outcome the last time they played a Game 3 in the ALDS. They trailed 0-2 in the series in 2008, but won Game 3 at home behind John Danks, though they were then eliminated by the Rays in four in Chicago. That year also gave birth to the “Blackout Game,” dubbed as a nod to White Sox fans wearing all black and waving black towels, as the team claimed a 1-0 victory over the Twins in the Game 163 tiebreaker and captured the AL Central crown.

In that game, Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. made a perfect throw home from center in the fifth inning to nail Michael Cuddyer, with catcher A.J. Pierzynski making a great grab and tag almost simultaneously. Another Hall of Famer, Jim Thome, hit a 460-foot homer for the lone run, while Danks threw the best eight shutout innings of his career. The victory was finished off by closer Bobby Jenks and Brian Anderson’s diving catch in center for the last out.

It arguably is the most exciting single game in White Sox history. The "Blackout" returns Sunday night -- Game 3 is a sellout.

“I’ve never been in this position in all the years I’ve been here. I’m going to take it all in,” Rodón said. “It’s going to be nice to see everyone in black and it’s going to be loud. It’s going to be a treat.”

“There's no doubt it's going to be electric,” Cease said. “What to expect? It's going to be intense, for sure. I think it's going to be pretty rowdy and hopefully we give them something to get even louder about. For me personally, I feel like I feed off that. The louder and the more energy there is, the better for sure.”