Liam Hendriks of the White Sox hides his face in a towel as the Houston Astros defeat the Sox 10-1 to win Game 4 of the American League Division Series at Guaranteed Rate Field on October 12, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. The Astros won the American League Division Series 3-1 and will advance to the American League Championship Series. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) | Getty
The Astros outscored the Sox by 19 runs in their three ALDS victories.
Ten runs ruled.
For the White Sox, a team that talked about the World Series in spring training, entertained fans with a talented roster during the regular season and cruised to its first division title in 13 years, getting trounced 10-1 by the Astros on Tuesday in Game 4 of the American League Division Series at Guaranteed Rate Field was a stunning way to bow out of the postseason.
Jose Altuve scored four runs, stole a base and hit a three-run home run against closer Liam Hendriks to rub the Sox’ noses in it in the ninth inning. Carlos Correa knocked starter Carlos Rodon out of the game with a two-run double on an 0-2 fastball with two outs in the third after Rodon had juiced up the crowd by touching 99 mph and pitching out of trouble in the first.
Fans who left a lasting memory Sunday by creating an electric atmosphere in a memorable 12-6 victory in Game 3 — the Sox’ only triumph of the series — had nothing to get noisy about after rookie designated hitter Gavin Sheets’ homer in the second produced the only run for the home team.
The Sox, who were bounced from the playoffs early for the second consecutive season, were outscored by five, five and nine runs in their three losses in the series.
”We accomplished the first goal, but we are disappointed to get one win and not two more, so bittersweet,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said after his first season since coming out of retirement came to an angry end.
La Russa was more bitter than anything, railing against the Astros for reliever Kendall Graveman ”intentionally” throwing at Sox slugger Jose Abreu in the eighth. It was an accusation Astros manager Dusty Baker denied.
It ”left a bitter taste in my mouth, my gut,” La Russa said.
Perhaps it was a way of masking the bitter taste of seeing his team get outplayed in all phases — pitching, hitting and defense — in the series.
”More than anything else, two-out hits [were the difference in the series],” La Russa lamented.
More than anything, the Sox’ starting pitching — their backbone all season — made a big difference by failing. They didn’t get a single good start from Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease and Rodon. Sox starters led the AL in ERA during the regular season but gave up 14 runs in 12 1/3 innings to the Astros for a 10.22 ERA.
”These guys can pitch, but we can hit,” Altuve said.
The Astros, a slight favorite going into the series, advanced to the AL Championship Series for the fifth consecutive season.
”We don’t get tired of these moments,” Correa said. ”They’re special, and we perform our best when October comes.”
The Sox had one good moment: Game 3. Besides that, it was three stinkers.
After digging themselves a 5-1 hole, they caught a break when Astros ace Lance McCullers left the game after four innings with soreness in his right forearm. But they did nothing with the Astros’ bullpen. Five relievers held the Sox to two hits.
”It’s a learning experience for all of us, but we got a big taste of what it’s like to play at home in the playoffs, and I don’t think anybody is going to forget today and Sunday night,” Sheets said. ”Just what it was like — the crowd, the black-out, the support. That burns a fire, and that makes you want to do it again and with a different outcome.
”Last year, we got to the wild card. This year, we won the division. We’re going to keep growing, and going into the offseason we’re all going to be talking about that atmosphere and wanting to play in front of that again. That’s going to be the goal from Day 1 when we step into spring training.”