A’s, White Sox set for first-ever postseason meeting

White Sox

The Chicago White Sox and host Oakland Athletics square off not only for the first time this season but also for the first time ever in postseason play when they open a best-of-three series in the American League wild-card playoff round on Tuesday afternoon.

The teams were separated by just one game during the regular season, but the A’s are seeded second and the White Sox seventh in the playoffs because Oakland (36-24) won the AL West while Chicago (35-25) got the first AL wild-card spot. The White Sox tied the Indians for second in the AL Central, but Cleveland won the tiebreaker thanks to an 8-2 head-to-head record.

Because they are the higher seed, the A’s will host the entire series, whose winner will play either the third-seeded Minnesota Twins or the sixth-seeded Houston Astros in the AL Division Series next week in Los Angeles.

White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito (4-3, 3.48 ERA) and A’s lefty Jesus Luzardo (3-2, 4.12) are the announced starters for Game 1.

The A’s and White Sox were dueling for the top seed in the AL before stumbling down the stretch.

Oakland was 28-15 shortly after star third baseman Matt Chapman sustained a torn labrum in his hip on Sept. 6. The A’s signed Jake Lamb, recently released by the Arizona Diamondbacks, as a replacement, and he hit a solid .267 in 13 games, but Oakland nonetheless lost nine of its last 17.

Luzardo has pitched well at home this season, going 3-1 with a 2.40 ERA. He shut out three of his past six home opponents — the Texas Rangers, Arizona and the San Francisco Giants — over 17 1/3 innings.

The 22-year-old threw three innings of one-hit, shutout relief in last year’s loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL wild-card game in his only previous postseason experience.

A’s manager Bob Melvin explained Monday that the outing against the Rays played a role in the decision to start him in Luzardo on Tuesday. Oakland will attempt to end a five-game postseason losing streak, including three consecutive one-and-done defeats in the AL wild-card game in 2014, 2018 and 2019.

“He looked like a veteran on the mound; he pitched really well,” Melvin said. “He’s composed, he’s got great stuff, he’s one of those guys who relishes these types of games at a young age. That’s rare to see.”

The White Sox, meanwhile, were 32-16 and had the best record in the AL on Sept. 15 before dropping nine of their last 12.

Giolito went winless in his last three starts due mostly to getting just seven runs of offensive support. He allowed eight runs in 17 2/3 innings.

The 26-year-old native of Santa Monica, Calif., has never lost in his home state, going 2-0, with both wins coming against the Los Angeles Angels.

He has gone 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA in two career starts against the A’s. The loss occurred on Aug. 11, 2019, in Chicago, when he served up a two-run home run to Matt Olson and was outpitched by Chris Bassitt in a 2-0 defeat. Giolito struck out a career-high-tying 13 in six innings during that contest.

Olson has two singles and two homers in six career at-bats against Giolito.

The White Sox worked out in Oakland on Monday afternoon, with all eyes on left fielder Eloy Jimenez, who missed the last three regular-season games due to a sprained right foot.

“So far, so good,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said during the session. “I’m cautiously optimistic I’ll be able to report something positive (Tuesday morning). DH isn’t out of the question. All options are open. We will make whatever adjustments we need to make.”

–Field Level Media

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