OAKLAND – With a young team that features a number of players in their first postseason, lessons are everywhere.
Nick Madrigal found that out the hard way when a bad break went against him on Wednesday.
In the first inning with two outs of Game 2 of the Wild Card Series against Oakland, Matt Olson’s grounder went deep in the hole at second. The rookie gave chase and was in position to make the play, but a bad hop sent it over his glove into the outfield.
Two runs would score to give the Athletics a 2-0 lead in what would end up being a 5-3 victory over the White Sox to tie the three-game series at one. It’s created a “Winner Take All” Game 3 for Thursday afternoon, with the teams hoping to end long droughts when it comes to wins in playoff series.
Naturally, the moment in the first inning was on the mind of Madrigal after the contest. Lessons in the postseason can be quite difficult, as was this for the second baseman.
“That’s kinda frustrating. I felt like I had a good read on it, I saw it the whole way, and then at the last second, sure enough, just caught the lip exactly right and popped up a little,” said Madrigal of the play. “That’s something I’ll keep in the back of my mind tomorrow taking ground balls and figure it out a little bit more.
“It happened perfectly and it’s frustrating.”
Another lesson that he along with the rest of the team have to learn now is how to quickly get rid of that loss mentally. Whatever happened on Wednesday can’t matter Thursday, for lingering effects of a defeat could spell a bad start in Game 3 and a quick elimination from the postseason.
“It’s kinda simple. Everyone knows where it’s at. Just out there and win a ballgame,” said manager Rick Renteria of his message to the team. “It’s go home if we don’t. I think everyone understands what’s on the line. I think everybody’s got to stay relaxed and continue to play the game.”
Such a message would have been appropriate for the White Sox on Wednesday when they did the one thing you always do in the playoffs: Remain in the fight. Down 5-0 heading into the eighth inning, the White Sox got two back on a home run from Yasmani Grandal, then got another in the ninth inning thanks to a two-out rally.
Two-straight singles and two-straight walks brought in a run and brought up Jose Abreu with the bases loaded. The first baseman hit the ball hard, but unfortunately it was right at Nate Orf who threw to first to end the game.
“It certainly feels different if it had been a 5-0 ballgame. Totally different when you’re fighting, fighting, fighting, and put yourself in that position they never quit, they never gave up,” said Renteria. “Hopefully, they can take that into the game tomorrow.”
Madrigal should do so, since it was his two-hit out that started that ninth inning rally came to fruition.
“No one’s really worried. We know what we can do,” said Madrigal. “I think that’s the bottom line, we don’t have to overthink it. Just got out there and play our game.”
With lessons of past failures and successes on the mind.