Astros go to Chicago with brooms in hand

CHICAGO – The Chicago White Sox pulled Tony La Russa out of retirement in hopes that he would command an advance until the late stages of the playoffs.

In one such event, the Hall of Fame manager was expected to even achieve the team’s second World Series title since 1917 and the first since 2005.

What no one glimpsed was that Chicago could be eliminated again at the first change in the playoffs. But that is precisely what is about to happen, unless the White Sox pull off a heroic reaction.

The Houston Astros will try to sweep the American League Division Series, which moves to Chicago this Sunday, for Game 3.

“We have to continue playing as we have done all season,” said Cuban outfielder Luis Robert of the White Sox. “Tomorrow we will have to find a way to win the game. I don’t know what way that is, but we have to find it.”

For its part, Houston takes nothing for granted. After being crowned in the AL West, he is about to advance to the Championship Series for the fifth time in a row, a streak that includes two Young Circuit pennants and a World Series title, won in 2019 but clouded by the signal theft scandal.

The Astros will place Luis García on the mound, while the White Sox opted for Dylan Cease and not Carlos Rodón.

“We don’t care if we have a 1-0 or 2-0 lead,” said Puerto Rican Astros catcher Martín Maldonado. “We have to see this as if the series is tight. We have to do our best to win. We have to keep the momentum we have.”

The Astros have beaten Chicago 15-5 combined. They won the first game 6-1, thanks to a dominant start by Lance McCullers Jr. In the second game, they took the victory 9-4, with the great batting of Puerto Rican Carlos Correa, Cuban Yordan Álvarez and Kyle Tucker.

For his part, the Venezuelan José Altuve has provided outstanding defensive plays.

Now, García seeks to finalize the series. The 24-year-old right-hander started Game 5 of the American League Championship Series against Tampa Bay last season and covered two scoreless innings as the Astros prevailed 4-3.

Then Houston fell in seven games.

“The repertoire he has is incredible,” said manager Dusty Baker. “And, you know, I’ve seen very young pitchers come into these situations that are more successful than young hitters.”

Chicago didn’t get the pitching it expected from Lance Lynn or Lucas Giolito. He hasn’t hit much in the first two games, either – he has 18 hits in the series, no doubles, triples or home runs.

It wasn’t the way the White Sox expected the series to start after crowning themselves in the NL Central with a 93-69 record. They outscored Cleveland by 13 games in the division and had their highest win total since going 99-63 in that 2005 World Series campaign.