Nobody gets a White Sox party started like Tim Anderson.
So it only makes sense that he was the guy starting the franchise's first postseason party in a dozen years.
The last time the White Sox were in the playoffs, Anderson was 15 years old. Fast forward to now, and he's the engine that makes this latest group of contending White Sox go. He banged out three hits in his first career postseason game, helping the White Sox to a 4-1 win over the Oakland Athletics, a victory that put the South Siders on the cusp of winning their first playoff series since 2005.
It shouldn't come as much of a shock that Anderson was one of the featured players. After all, he was the big league batting champion a year ago and established himself as an MVP candidate this season. He's one of the most crucial members of this team, a fact that was on display as he slumped during the final week of the regular season, 3-for-his-last-33 at the plate. Simultaneously, the White Sox finished the regular season in a 2-8 rut.
But Anderson was back to his old ways Tuesday as the White Sox started the postseason. And unsurprisingly, so were the White Sox.
"When Timmy goes, we go," manager Rick Renteria said. "Everybody feels that way. When he goes, we go.
"Certainly, Timmy impacts us immensely, and all those guys start to feed off of him. (José Abreu) feeds off of him. It's really neat to see. If Timmy goes, we go."
That's what happened Tuesday. Anderson started the game with a leadoff single against A's starting pitcher Jesús Luzardo, which turned into the White Sox first scoring chance. Two innings later, he singled off Luzardo again, this time ahead of Abreu's two-run homer that made it a 3-0 game. Anderson added a double in his fourth trip to the plate for his first multi-hit playoff game after 20 multi-hit performances during the regular season.
"Being able to start the party," Anderson said of his role. "Starting off with a hit is a positive, as well. Being able to set a table in all aspects and being able to be dominant in the game, definitely give the guys a lot of energy to continue to keep going. Today was one of those days, started off with a hit and the rest came behind me."
Of course, Anderson also backed up his words — or rather the existing numbers — pointing out the White Sox success against left-handed starting pitchers.
Anderson made some Twitter waves Monday when he joked the A's hadn't "done their homework" by throwing the lefty Luzardo in Game 1 of the best-of-three series. The White Sox went 14-0 against left-handed starters and generally raked against left-handed pitchers during the regular season. Anderson did some particular damage, with a .449 batting average against southpaws.
A's fans jumped at the chance to poke some holes in those numbers, and even Oakland's Game 2 starter, the former White Sox hurler Chris Bassitt, seemed rankled by Anderson's joking comment.
Indeed, Luzardo is probably a better pitcher than the many Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers the White Sox mashed against during the season. But they had major success against lefties. Period. And the A's found that out the hard way, Luzardo lasting just 3.1 innings.
So make that 15-0.
"We know what we do to lefties. We can’t let them off the hook," Anderson said after the game. "We were able to get him early. And we did our homework on him, just like any other lefty. We were able to come out and jump on them early and get him on out of there."
So whether it's with the bat, with the glove or with his on- and off-field energy, Anderson indeed makes this team go.
And that's going to be extraordinarily important as long as the White Sox are playing in this postseason. With Eloy Jiménez out of the lineup Tuesday, with Luis Robert and Yoán Moncada a combined 1-for-8, the White Sox offense still managed to mash, with four runs on three homers. But who knows if they get to that point without Anderson doing his thing.
Robert and Moncada showed signs of breaking out of their respective slumps but have yet to fully do so. Anderson managed to flip his switch and bust out in the very first playoff game. He's critical to the White Sox ability to keep winning playoff games.
Or as the skipper put it:
"When Timmy goes, we go."