Are White Sox set up to ace A's in Game 1 of playoffs?
The White Sox ended the regular season on a down note, but they have multiple reasons to be upbeat heading into Tuesday afternoon's playoff opener against the Athletics at Oakland Coliseum.
"You can tell everybody's ready to go," shortstop Tim Anderson said. "Everybody's here at early workouts today. Everybody's excited and everybody's ready to get out on the field and leave it all on the line and see what happens."
With very little room for error in the short (best-of-three) series, the Sox should be feeling good about themselves.
First, they got some needed rest Monday after ending the regular season with 17 straight games.
Second, the White Sox's potent offense seemed to awaken in Sunday's loss to the Cubs at Guaranteed Rate Field. Trailing 10-1, they stormed back late before falling 10-8.
Third, it's looking like Eloy Jimenez is going to be ready to play against the A's after missing the final three games of the regular season with a sprained right foot.
Fourth, Oakland is sending rookie left-hander Jesus Luzardo to the mound in Game 1 against Sox ace Lucas Giolito (2 p.m., ESPN). The White Sox were 14-0 in games against lefty starters this season.
"Every lefty has different stuff," Luzardo said. "We'll see how my stuff plays against them."
The numbers say Anderson and the Sox's offense will be ready.
"Nothing against (Luzardo), but we have been doing good against lefties," said Anderson, who hit .449 with 6 home runs and 12 RBI in 49 at-bats vs. left-handers this season. "I guess they haven't done their homework, so hopefully we can go out and continue to do what we've been doing against lefties and be able to come out with a win."
Giolito had some command issues in September while going 1-1 with a 4.18 ERA and 10 walks in 23⅔ innings, but the right-hander is feeling good heading into his first playoff appearance and first start at Oakland.
Pitching in the cavernous Coliseum during the daylight and facing an A's lineup that had trouble scoring runs down the stretch bodes well for Giolito.
"This is what I've been working for," said Giolito, who pitched a no-hitter vs. the Pirates on Aug. 25. "I've been really looking forward to pitching in the postseason and I couldn't ask for a better squad to be doing it with for my first time. I'm very excited.
"As far as how I'm feeling about tomorrow, same game. I know that if I come out executing more pitches than not, then it will probably be a pretty good one for me. That's pretty much all I focus on."