Sox lose, but Grandal looks ready for playoff heroics originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
But they’ve got to be feeling good about what they’re seeing from Yasmani Grandal, even if it’s impossible to match how good the South Side catcher is feeling at the plate.
“It just seems like it’s the norm right now,” Grandal said after Saturday’s 9-8 extra-inning loss. “I can work an AB. Within two ABs, I can work it into 19, 20 pitches, or I can hit something hard. It just depends on whether they’re pitching me the way that I want them to pitch me or not. And once they do, if I just so happened to be locked in on it, then I’m able to capitalize on it.”
Grandal has indeed been in the zone since returning from a nearly two-month absence as he recovered from surgery to repair a torn tendon in his knee. In the 11 games he played coming into Saturday, he owned a .429/.553/.943 slash line that will require you to now pick your jaw up off the floor. In that 11-game span, he hit five homers, walked nine times and drove in 16 runs.
Then he went and added three more hits in Saturday’s playoff-style tilt against the Boston Red Sox, none bigger than the solo homer he blasted in the fifth that pushed the White Sox’ five-run comeback into a one-run lead. His leadoff single in the 10th seemed pretty large at the time, too.
Grandal has shown a knack for these kinds of clutch hits ever since putting on a White Sox uniform. With his bat on fire right now and the playoffs approaching, he looks ready to play postseason hero for a team with its sights set on winning the whole thing.
Grandal smacked a pair of homers in last fall’s American League Wild Card Series against the Oakland Athletics, including one off now-White Sox closer Liam Hendriks. His clutch blast Saturday might have jogged memories of those big flies, as well as provided a preview of what could be to come when the White Sox make their next playoff trip in a few weeks’ time.
How’s he done it? How’s he turned a prolonged stay on the injured list into a red-hot return?
“I didn’t turn off,” Grandal said. “As soon as I got surgery, I kept doing homework, I kept doing my reports, just like if I was playing on a daily basis. You learn a lot just by watching. Sitting on the bench just watching taught me a lot. So the fact that I’m able to do what I’ve been doing, it’s great. We needed it.”
The bat didn’t turn off, either. Grandal was the White Sox’ hottest hitter when he went down with the knee injury in early July. Watching him now, not only has he picked up where he left off, he’s gotten even hotter.
“He had one real advantage, that’s the way he was hitting when he left,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said earlier this week in Oakland. “I think he knew in his heart, when he came back, he knew exactly what needed to get right. And he’s doing all the same things now. For our good fortune and his, … the fact that he got solid right before he left, he’s carried it over.
“He knows exactly what he needs to do at the plate. The physical part, I’m not a doctor, but you cut out that tendon — I don’t know if everybody wants to cut it out on purpose. He came back fast, and he was moving.”
There are a lot of hitters on this team capable of playing a starring role during a lengthy postseason run. José Abreu comes to mind. Luis Robert has been some kind of hot lately, too. Eloy Jiménez has incredible power. And Tim Anderson just makes this whole team go.
Grandal is certainly a part of that group. But unlike those guys, he’s got a wealth of playoff experience from his days with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers, and he knows what it takes to succeed in October.
Grandal has seen the positive signs from this White Sox team all season long. He saw another one Saturday, with the White Sox responding to Dylan Cease surrendering seven runs in the third inning. They plated five in the fourth to tie the game, and Grandal’s homer provided the lead in the fifth.
The White Sox might have lost in extras, but they showed Grandal something he liked to see, something that was perhaps even bigger and more important than the result.
“It goes to show what we’ve been saying all year: It’s nine innings,” Grandal said, referring to playing a complete game, even though Saturday’s lasted 10 innings. “We’re not going to give up just because we’re down by five, six runs. We already know that we can do it, we can come back if we keep putting (together) good ABs and putting zeroes up on the board.
“Overall, it was a great game. It just so happened we ended up on the losing side. But a lot of times, these types of games are the ones that teach you the most, especially when you come up as a loser.
“I’m just glad that we were able to come back. That was huge. … Even though we lost, I feel like we still had the momentum. So turn the page, come back tomorrow, and we know we can do it.”
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Source: Yahoo Sports