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Rookie Nick Madrigal’s errors, baserunning costly in White Sox’ loss

There’s no margin for error in the postseason, and rookie second baseman Nick Madrigal made two, as well as a mistake on the bases Wednesday.

Ramon Laureano of the Athletics is tagged out by Nick Madrigal of the White Sox in the fifth inning of Game 2 of the AL wild-card series at RingCentral Coliseum on September 30, 2020, in Oakland, California. Madrigal made a throwing error after making the tag. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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There’s no margin for error in the postseason, and rookie second baseman Nick Madrigal made two, as well as a mistake on the bases Wednesday. All told, they probably cost the White Sox three runs in a 5-3 loss to the Athletics in Game 2 of the wild-card series in Oakland.

Two singles with two strikes and a run scored softened the blow for the fourth overall pick in the 2018 draft, but there was no getting around Madrigal’s “plus-minus rating” in a two-run game.

“It’s something I’m going to learn from, and it’s right back tomorrow,” Madrigal said.

Rookie mistakes are part of the game, but learning in postseason games comes at a high price.

Madrigal’s two-out error on Matt Olson’s ground ball with the bases full in the first inning gave the A’s the early spark they needed. Left-hander Dallas Keuchel got two ground balls after two outs, but shortstop Tim Anderson threw wide of Jose Abreu at first after ranging far to snag Chad Pinder’s bouncer behind second base. And then Olson’s grounder to Madrigal’s glove side caught the lip of the outfield grass, taking a mini-high hop and glancing off his glove.

And with that, it was 2-0.

“Yeah, I think I should make [that play],” Madrigal said. “I’m always going to say that, though.”

Manager Rick Renteria said Madrigal was “probably a little too close to the cut” on a field with “a lip.”

“He might’ve creeped up a little too close,” Renteria said.

Madrigal’s baserunning cost the Sox a run in the third inning when he didn’t pick up Anderson’s single to right or his coaches as he dashed, head down, on a straight steal. When he got to second, he couldn’t locate the ball and started back toward first. So instead of getting to third, where he would have scored on left fielder Mark Canha’s leaping catch of Yoan Moncada’s drive at the top of the wall on what A’s starter Chris Bassitt called “a game-changer, game-saver,” Madrigal — who had his share of issues on the bases during the regular season — stayed on second.

“I’ve got to look at my third-base coach and see what he’s saying,” Madrigal said. “That was my mistake on that one. Again, something I’ll learn from.”

Madrigal made his second error in the fifth, throwing wide of Abreu after making a tag near second, but that miscue didn’t lead to a run.

Still no Eloy

Eloy Jimenez missed his second game of the series and fifth in a row with a sprained right foot. There was no improvement from Tuesday to Wednesday, Renteria said, not even enough to allow him to DH.

“You need to be able to run,” Renteria said.

The only change in Renteria’s lineup was at DH, with Edwin Encarnacion (.157/.250/.377) replacing Yasmani Grandal, who was the starting catcher for Game 2. Encarnacion went 0-for-2 with a strikeout before Nomar Mazara pinch-hit for him in the seventh and singled.

Mazara had another good at-bat with Abreu on first after Grandal’s home run cut the A’s lead to 5-2 but was called out on strikes on a pitch that was several inches off the inside corner, according to Statcast.

Anderson in select company

Anderson, who had three singles and scored a run, is 6-for-9 in the series. He is the fourth Sox player with consecutive three-hit postseason games, joining Tim Raines (1993 American League Championship Series), Nellie Fox (1959 World Series) and Frank Isbell (1906 World Series).