If you’ve been following along, we opened this virtual MLB Tournament with every team in the league having a crack at winning it all, in a mega league-wide field of participants, ranked by their 2020 Fangraphs projected win-loss total.
Here’s the original bracket, as a refresher before we breakdown the best-of-seven championship series between the White Sox and Nationals.
The White Sox and the Nationals took polar-opposite paths through the bracket, with the Nationals dominating every opponent with pitching and a potent lineup as they coasted to the finals with just one loss in their series with the New York Yankees in the quarterfinals.
The White Sox fought tooth-and-nail, playing every possible game to stave off elimination on the strength of a high-powered offensive attack, having to takedown division rivals Cleveland and Minnesota along the way.
In the end, we had the high powered offense of the underdog White Sox taking on the dominant pitching staff of the defending champion Washington Nationals in a best-of-seven.
Game 1: Nationals 5, White Sox 4
Eloy Jimenez got the scoring going for the White Sox in the fifth with a two-run home run, putting the White Sox up 2-0. The lead wouldn’t last long, Juan Soto would match and raise Jimenez with a three-run bomb in the home-half of the fifth, giving the Nationals a 3-2 lead.
In the top of the seventh, it was Jimenez again, this time with a two-run double to take the lead back, pushing the White Sox ahead 4-3 with just six outs to go for the home team.
In the bottom of the eighth, Sox reliever Alex Colome allowed a two-run home run to Nationals’ catcher Kurt Suzuki, which would be the final blow in the ballgame as the Nats’ secured a Game 1 victory.
Game 2: Nationals 3, White Sox 1
Stephen Strasburg did his thing in Game 2, stifling the White Sox lineup to the tune of just one run on three hits over seven innings of work. A Yasmani Grandal single plated the only run of the game for Chicago in the top of the third inning.
Dallas Keuchel was strong on the other side of the coin, allowing two runs on seven hits in six innings of work.
Game 3: White Sox 4, Nationals 3
In a must-win situation, the White Sox got just enough from all sides to prevent a three-game deficit from coming to fruition.
Dylan Cease started the game on shaky street, allowing two runs in the first and another in the second inning, but settled in to throw four scoreless innings from there. The bullpen combination of Jimmy Cordero, Kelvin Herrera, and Jace Fry secured the final nine outs, with Fry earning the win as the White Sox qued up the theatrics in the bottom of the ninth again.
Trailing 3-2 and down to their final three outs, Tim Anderson took Nats’ closer Sean Doolittle deep to give the White Sox a 4-3 victory in Game 3. The walk-off was the second of the tournament for Anderson.
Game 4: White Sox 1, Nationals 0
Both pitchers were cruising, until Eloy Jimenez took Sanchez deep with one out in the bottom of the seventh, giving the White Sox a late 1-0 lead. The home run by Jimenez would be all the White Sox needed.
Gio Gonzalez tossed eight innings of shutout baseball, allowing just three base hits while striking out nine and walking a pair. Alex Colome threw a perfect ninth inning to secure the victory, and even the series up at two-a-piece.
Game 5: White Sox 12, Nationals 4
With the momentum having shifted a full 180 degrees since the series departed Washington, the White Sox looked stay hot in Game 5. The offense did just that, beating up on Tyson Ross (3.2 IP, 7 ER, 10 H) and coasting to a win, and a lead in the series.
It was a route from the jump, and the White Sox took a 3-2 series lead back to Washington, completely flipping the script on the Nationals while in Chicago.
Game 6: Nationals 9, White Sox 2
Like the White Sox did in Game 3, the Nationals responded to having their backs against the wall at home in Game 6.
The offense went to work early, hanging a five-spot on Sox starter Lucas Giolito in the bottom of the first inning and didn’t look back. They would score again in the third, fifth, and seventh as they won Game 6 in convincing fashion.
Eric Thames was 4-4 with a home run, a double, and five RBI on the evening, and Max Scherzer tossed seven strong innings to earn his second win of the series, forcing a deciding Game 7.
Game 7: White Sox 9, Nationals 2
Remember when the White Sox gave Dallas Keuchel a big ol’ fat payday this past winter? One would have to believe that this type of scenario loomed large in the minds of Rick Hahn and company.
The Nationals never had a chance in this one.
Keuchel held the Nationals to a pair of runs on four hits over seven innings of work. That was all the offense needed from their veteran pitcher.
Yoan Moncada, Jose Abreu, and Eloy Jimenez all went deep and the White Sox plated nine runs against the defending champions en route to a commanding — and deciding — 9-2 victory.
Eloy Jimenez was far-and-away the MVP of this tournament for the White Sox, hitting .348 with 6 home runs, 23 RBI, and 20 runs scored. Thanks, Theo.
Here’s the final bracket after the proverbial dust has settled:
This was fun, but here’s to hoping that with coverage of next month’s MLB Draft, and the possibility of baseball returning sometime in July, this will be the last virtual assignment I have for a while.