José Abreu didn’t wait long to make an impact in his first postseason contest during the White Sox 4-1 victory over the A’s on Tuesday afternoon in Game 1 of their American League Wild Card Series at Oakland.
“We know what we do to lefties,” said Anderson, who had three hits and one run scored. “We can’t let them off the hook. We were able to get him early, and we did our homework on him. Just like any other lefty.”
Anderson opened the game with a single, and while the White Sox didn’t score in the first, they put runners on the corners before James McCann struck out swinging. Abreu hit a two-run home run off Luzardo in the third inning, scoring Anderson to give Chicago a 3-0 lead.
But it was Engel’s home run, on an 0-2, 96 mph fastball with one out in the second, that gave the White Sox a lead they would not relinquish. Engel became the first player in White Sox history with a home run in his first career postseason at-bat.
“Oh man, incredible,” Engel said of the home run. “Once I hit it, rounding the bases was like one of those things ... pregame you're trying to envision your at-bats, put yourself in the box, trying to envision success up there.
“Then when it actually happens, it's just such a cool feeling. My family was here to see it, so it was a special moment.”
Luzardo’s 1-0 pitch on the Abreu at-bat was in the strike zone, according to Statcast, but was called a ball by home-plate umpire Adam Hamari. Abreu took advantage of the 2-0 count and launched the next pitch 412 feet with an exit velocity of 104.5 mph, per Statcast. The home run came with first base open and McCann on deck.
That blast gave Abreu 20 home runs, when factoring in the 2020 regular season, and 62 RBIs in 61 games. Abreu -- a 2020 AL MVP Award candidate -- became the first Cuban-born White Sox hitter to go deep in the postseason.
“The most consistent hitter there is,” Anderson said of Abreu. “That shows the type of hitter he is. He waited him out and was able to get a pitch he could handle. And it’s 3-0 right there.”
“Huge. I can't say enough great things about [Abreu]. I've been doing it all year,” said White Sox ace Lucas Giolito, who threw six perfect innings before allowing one run on two hits over seven-plus for the win. “We all have. We all love 'Pito,' what he contributes to this team on the field, off the field. Just an amazing player, an amazing person. I'm very happy that he was able to hit that home run. Obviously for me, more insurance runs, and then also for him, kind of showing out in his first postseason game after such a nice career he's had and such a nice season he's had.”
Yasmani Grandal homered in the eighth to complete the scoring for Chicago. On Wednesday, the White Sox go for their first playoff series victory since 2005, in their first playoff appearance since 2008.
“We’re in a good spot right now,” Anderson said.