A season that began with lofty expectations ended well short of the ultimate goal for the Chicago White Sox, who were eliminated from the playoffs with a 10-1 loss to the Houston Astros in Game 4 of the American League Division Series on Tuesday at Guaranteed Rate Field.
The Astros took the lead on a two-out, two-run double by Carlos Correa in the third inning and didn’t look back to win the best-of-five series 3-1. They advance to play the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series.
As for the White Sox, it’s a disappointing finish to a year with a lot of promise.
They made several offseason moves — including hiring Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa for a second stint — looking to take the next step after being eliminated in an AL wild-card series by the Oakland Athletics in 2020.
The Sox made consecutive playoff appearances for the first time in franchise history after running away with the AL Central. But for the second straight year, they couldn’t advance past their first playoff series.
Sox starters were a huge strength during the regular season. The success didn’t carry it over to the playoffs. None of the four starters — Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease and Carlos Rodón — made it out of the fifth inning.
Rodón was a question mark entering the postseason because of arm fatigue/soreness that became an issue late in the season. He started Game 4 and featured a fastball that reached 99 mph in the first inning, electrifying the lively home crowd of 40,170.
But he ran into trouble in the third, hitting Jose Altuve with a pitch and issuing back-to-back two-out walks to Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez to load the bases.
The Sox had right-hander Michael Kopech warming. But La Russa decided to stick with the lefty Rodón to face the right-handed hitting Correa, who hit an 0-2 pitch to left for the double to give the Astros a 2-1 lead.
That was the final batter for Rodón, who allowed two runs on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts in 2⅔ innings.
The Astros added three runs in the fourth, which featured a two-out, two-run double by Bregman against reliever Garrett Crochet to make it 5-1. Kopech was charged with three runs in two-thirds of an inning.
The Sox faced a four-run deficit early before bouncing back to win Game 3. They couldn’t duplicate the feat Tuesday.
One of those key players, center fielder Luis Robert, left the game after the sixth inning with right leg tightness.
The Astros tacked on runs in the sixth and eighth with RBI singles by Michael Brantley. Altuve hit s 3-run home run in the 9th inning to the dismay of the packed crowd.
The test becomes finding a way to get over the next hurdle for an extended postseason appearance.