Carlos Correa knocked Carlos Rodon out of the game with a two-run, two-out double on an 0-2 pitch in the third inning, Alex Bregman drove in two runs with a double on a 3-0 pitch from Garrett Crochet in the fourth, and the Houston Astros ended the White Sox’ season with a 10-1 blowout victory Tuesday in Game 4 of the American League Division Series at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Needing a win to knot the series at two games apiece and send it to Houston for a deciding game, the Sox found themselves in a 5-1 hole in the fourth inning and lost the series in four games for their second straight quick exit from postseason, this time under manager Tony La Russa. The Sox fell to the Athletics in the best of three Wild Card series last season under manager Rick Renteria, who was fired after the season.
Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, on the receiving end of hostile, sometimes profane chants from the Sox’ crowd during Games 3 and 4, put an exclamation point on the series by launching a three-run homer against Sox closer Liam Hendriks in the ninth inning. By that time, a large portion of the 40,174 in attendance was on its way out of the ballpark.
Hours earlier, the Sox, their backs to the wall, had the crowd in full voice with a promising start. After two inspiring scoreless innings from left-hander Carlos Rodon, they scored first on designated hitter Gavin Sheets’ solo home run to center field against Astros ace Lance McCullers Jr. in the second. Astros center fielder Jake Meyers injured his right shoulder reaching over the wall and left the game.
Rodon, touching 99 mph in his first start in 13 days, struck out Bregman and Jordan Alvarez with Altuve on third base after Altuve hit Rodon’s first pitch of the game, a 93-mph fastball, into the left field corner for a double.
Touching 99 mph for the first time since July, Rodon’s sequence of strikeouts had the crowd in a frenzy. Bothered by a sore shoulder much of the second half of the season, the All-Star left-hander let out a triumphant scream as he came off the mound. In the second inning, Rodon allowed a leadoff single to Correa, then recorded three straight outs.
But after striking out Martin Maldonado leading off the third, Rodon hit Altuve on the left elbow pad with a pitch and walked Alex Bregman and Jordan Alvarez, loading the bases with two outs and setting up Correa’s big blow that gave the Astros the lead for good at 2-1.
Maldonado’s RBI single, a liner up the middle that made Kopech duck out of the way, scored Kyle Tucker to make it 3-1, and Bregman’s double made it 5-1. Brantley’s two-out single against Aaron Bummer in the sixth scored Chas McCormick, who had replaced Meyers in center field.
The Astros stole four bases on Rodon, Kopech, Craig Kimbrel and catcher Yasmani Grandal.
Rodon was charged with two runs and Kopech, who replaced Rodon, was charged with three runs. Manager Tony La Russa said Monday that Kopech, who had thrown 47 pitches in the Sox’ 12-6 win in Game 3, would not be available until a possible Game 5.
The Sox’ starting rotation had the best ERA in the AL this season, but Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease and Rodon allowed 14 runs lasting only 12 1⁄3 innings for a 10.22 ERA in four starts.
McCullers, the winner in Game 1 in Houston, was pulled after four innings and 73 pitches, and Astros bullpen strung together zeroes the rest of the way.
Sox center fielder Luis Robert left the game in the sixth with right leg tightness.
The Astros advance to the ALCS to face the Red Sox, a series that starts Friday in Houston.