CHICAGO — Two big swings by pint-sized Leury Garcia. A rule-testing run by Yasmani Grandal. Solid relief work from Liam Hendriks and company.
Right when the Chicago White Sox got in big trouble, they found a way.
Garcia and Grandal homered, and Grandal’s borderline baserunning helped the White Sox top the Houston Astros 12-6 on Sunday night to stay alive in their AL Division Series.
Backed by a boisterous crowd of 40,288, the AL Central champions erased a 5-1 deficit in the franchise’s first home playoff game in 13 years, trimming Houston’s series edge to 2-1. Tim Anderson collected three more hits, and Ryan Tepera started a stellar finish for Chicago’s bullpen after Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech (1-0) struggled.
“It’s a real tough-minded bunch,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said, “and sometimes you get rewarded with a comeback like that.”
Houston was hoping to sweep its way into its fifth consecutive appearance in the AL Championship Series. The AL West champions got off to a fast start behind Kyle Tucker, but they failed to record a hit in the last five innings.
“I think we made a statement,” Grandal said.
Game 4 of the best-of-five series is scheduled for Monday afternoon, but there is rain in the forecast.
The playoff-tested Astros rolled into Chicago after a pair of impressive victories at home, then jumped out to a 5-1 lead in Game 3. The sweet-swinging Tucker hit a two-run double off Cease in the second and a two-run homer off Kopech in the third.
Houston’s fast start silenced the towel-waving crowd, but it got revved up again in the bottom half of the third.
After Grandal’s two-run shot just over the wall in left made it 5-3, Yoan Moncada and Gavin Sheets reached on two-out singles. Leury Garcia then looked at two balls from Luis Garcia before Astros manager Dusty Baker replaced his starting pitcher with Yimi Garcia (0-1).
The winner of the Garcia trilogy was Leury, listed at 5-foot-8 and 190 pounds. The versatile veteran drove a 3-1 pitch from Yimi Garcia deep to center for a 436-foot homer.
“I mean that ball was scalded,” La Russa said.
The game was tied at 6 when the White Sox went ahead to stay with three runs in the fourth – highlighted by a memorable run by Grandal that rankled Baker and the Astros.
After Jose Abreu‘s tiebreaking RBI single put runners on the corners with none out, Grandal hit a bouncer to Yuli Gurriel at first. Gurriel tried to come home, but his throw went off Grandal as the catcher sprinted up the line in the infield grass.
Luis Robert scored, taking out umpire Tom Hallion in the process, and Gurriel was charged with an error. The Astros lobbied for an interference call on Grandal, but the umpires huddled and left the play in place.
Baker then had a long argument with Hallion before returning to the dugout.
“I start running and then all of a sudden he’s throwing the ball right at me,” Grandal said. “I didn’t really think about what was going on at the plate.”
Eloy Jimenez capped the big fourth with his second RBI single, and the White Sox put it away with three more runs in the eighth. Leury Garcia doubled in Andrew Vaughn and scored on Anderson’s single.
The 16-hit attack for Chicago overshadowed stellar relief by Ryan Tepera, Aaron Bummer, Craig Kimbrel and Hendriks. Tepera worked two innings before Bummer got five outs. Kimbrel got the last out of the eighth before Hendriks finished.
Anderson has 16 hits in six career playoff games, the most by any player in a six-game postseason span.
Carlos Rodon starts Game 4 for the White Sox. Rodon went 13-5 with a 2.37 ERA in 24 starts this year, but he was limited down the stretch because of shoulder soreness and fatigue. The Astros will start Jose Urquidy, who was 8-3 with a 3.62 ERA in 20 starts.