White Sox manager Tony La Russa checked to see if there were any other questions for him in his press conference after a 12-6 win against the Astros in Game 3 of the American League Division Series on Sunday. He had something he wanted to say.
“I can't tell you the impression that made on our ballclub that the fans stayed around until the end,” La Russa said. “And all the energy they provided early definitely helped, so that was amazing.”
In a four-hour game that finished after 11:30 p.m., players kept commenting in the late innings that no fans had left Guaranteed Rate Field, La Russa said. By the ninth, the White Sox fans, clad in black, were on their feet chanting: “Sox in five.” The White Sox, in turn, kept that possibility alive with their first win of the postseason.
“That's the most people I've ever seen at this park,” said Astros manager Dusty Baker, who managed on the other side of town in the 2000s. “And, you know, if I wasn't playing a game, I would have enjoyed myself being here at this park. I don't know if I have an all black outfit or not, but I would have probably gotten one.”
The White Sox’ first home playoff game since 2008 started with a hype video and light show. ‘Back in Black’ blared, and the White Sox took the field. The crowd rippled with movement as the fans twirled black rally towels.
“It was an exciting atmosphere, the one that we experienced last night,” third baseman Yoán Moncada said Monday through team interpreter Billy Russo. “It was definitely way different compared to what we experienced last year with no fans in the stands. It was important for us to have our fan support, and that was an extra motivation for us, and I think we took it to our advantage.”
When the White Sox fell behind in the third inning, catcher Yasmani Grandal turned to outfielder Billy Hamilton, an adept “hype man” to elicit the crowd’s help.
“If we get the fans back in it, we're going to go ahead and take over this game,” Grandal recounted after the game. “Billy said, ‘All right.’ This place was rocking tonight. These fans are incredible, so the fact that everybody was here, it was great. All blacked out. It was awesome.”
A “cheater-er” chant quickly became a fan-favorite, referencing the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal that fully came to light in early 2020. A more profane cheer directed at Astros second baseman Jose Altuve– rhyming with “Duck Altuve” – was also popular on Monday.
“It's America,” La Russa said when asked about the profanity. “They can chant, ‘Fire La Russa’ if they wanted to, right? I have no problem as long as they show up. But the reason that question bothers me is the most amazing thoughts that come to mind when I thought about last night and the fans was that incredible support that was so loud.”
They were just as loud to start the night as they were to finish it, “Sox in 5” chants erupting into a deafening roar as White Sox closer Liam Hendriks struck out Altuve to solidify the White Sox’ win.
With the victory, the White Sox forced another game at Guaranteed Rate Field. After being postponed on Monday due to inclement weather, Game 4 is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.