In yet another nail biter, the Chicago White Sox defeated the Houston Astros 1-0 on a Jermaine Dye single in the 8th inning, sending the White Sox to their first World Series Championship since 1917. The latest Hot Corner explains the significance of last night's feat for the South Side of Chicago.
For those of you who couldn't burn the midnight oil (and the 1a.m. oil), the Chicago White Sox defeated the Houston Astros 7-5 in 14 innings last night thanks to a Geoff Blum home run and some wildness by Ezequiel Astacio. ESPN.com has the recap. Some quick thoughts:
-Somewhere around the 12th inning, Tim McCarver made a comment that the White Sox have played "mistake free" baseball in the World Series. Not quite. The White Sox made several baserunning mistakes in Game 2, and last night, they had 3 errors (2 at the time of McCarver's comment). Juan Uribe's first error (hitting Everett with a rundown throw) led to 2 runs. In addition, Scott Podsednik's BUNTED into a double play, and Chicago pitchers walked a whopping 12 batters! Far from mistake free, the White Sox have managed to CAPITALIZE on Houston's mistakes while the Astros haven't been able to come up with that extra timely hit to make the difference.
-Sadly, if Houston doesn't get a win tonight, this World Series will likely be viewed historically as a blowout. The television ratings are down and one team has a 3-0 lead, but those facts don't tell the true story of how close and exciting the series has been so far. In the 8th inning of every game so far, the score has either been tied or a 1-run difference.
-Despite not being incredibly happy with Fox's broadcast (Buck and McCarver missed a lot of opportunities, namely pointing out how important Chicago's insurance run in the 14th could have been with no bullpen left and Marte ready to toe the mound for another inning), it is nice to hear only 2 people talking. Adding the third announcer for extra analysis takes away from the broadcast as much as it adds.
-Morgan Ensberg and Aaron Rowand are simply off their game. They both look terrible at the plate and the national audience is getting a poor indication of how much these two players meant to their teams' successful seasons.
-It was nice to see Houston get a call or two go their way (Lane's "home run," Dye's hit-by-pitch not called) so the losing team can't blame the series on the officials. And no, I still do not advocate instant replay.
-Minute Maid Park is just a silly place to play baseball. 315 feet down the left field line is silly, and the nooks and crannies and hill in the outfield are more dangerous than quaint. Putting a yellow piece of tape zigzagging around some offwhite brick is not the best setup for determining a home run, either.
-If you predicted Podsednik and Blum would hit game winning home runs in the World Series, I'd like to ask to borrow your DeLorean for the day. If you predicted that the White Sox would be within one game of winning the World Series the year after losing Carlos Lee and Magglio Ordonez, I would say you don't know baseball very well. But what do I know? I picked the Angels over the Marlins this year.
Thanks to a very generous brother-in-law, I was able to snag a ticket for Game 2 of the World Series. It's late and I'm tired, so a full recap will be available tomorrow, but here's a quick preview: what a game! More tomorrow...
You know when you hear an announcer say "For those of you scoring at home" and you think to yourself, "What kind of nerdlinger would be keeping score at home?" Well... almost embarrassed to admit, I gave it a go for Game 1 and enjoyed it. The White Sox topped the Astros 5-3 in Game 1 and I have every sac bunt and backwards "K" recorded. Jealous?
With the White Sox reaching the World Series for the first time in many people's lifetimes (sorry Baby Boomers), stories about $1,000 tickets and organ swapping for some ducats are more rampant than articles about the pitching staff. The latest Foul Territory tries to reign in the absurdity of it all as an announcement is made to call people's bluff.
In a move that should not be overlooked, it appears as if former Atlanta pitching coach Leo Mazzone will join the Baltimore Orioles as their pitching coach, agreeing to a 3-year deal. It is a huge loss for Atlanta in their quest to constantly contend, taking mediocre pitching and making it work. ESPN has the whole story.
While the Astros are celebrating their Game 6 victory over St. Louis, we are left to contemplate what happened to everyone's razors once the playoffs started. While Adam Everett and company are following the slogan "Refuse to Shave" as much as "Refuse to Lose," they should be congratulated on beating the Cardinals soundly and making The Commish look foolish (picking St. Louis in 5). A World Series Preview will be available shortly.
I'd like to comment on the St. Louis - Houston game tonight, but I am too saddened by the news that the sitcom (with liberal use of the "com" part) "Fran" has been put on hold by the WB. My life will never be the same. Seriously, tonight's game should be a good one. I wouldn't bet against Oswalt... unless of course Albert Pujols is on the other team. Vague enough for you?
One strike away from the World Series. Brad Lidge on the mound. Little David Eckstein at the plate. A "seeing eye" single, a walk, and a MOON SHOT later (by monster Albert Pujols), and suddenly Houston fans are questioning themselves all over again. Game 6 will be in St. Louis tomorrow.
In the end, the controversial dropped third strike was all for naught. When one team throws 4 consecutive complete games and the other team hits a whopping .175 for the series, it would take a lot more than one call to overcome the efforts of Chicago's pitching in the ALCS. Thanks to great pitching, solid defense, and timely hitting (Crede, Konerko, etc.), the Chicago White Sox are going to the 2005 World Series and are currently celebrating, with plenty of time to rest until Saturday.
A "Complete" Effort
Shortly after Roger Clemens and the Astros took a 2-1 series lead over St. Louis, Freddy Garcia pitched Chicago's 3rd straight complete game, leading the White Sox to an 8-2 victory (and 3-1 series lead) over Los Angeles tonight.
Houston and St. Louis continue their Central Division rivalry in the NLCS tonight, reprising their roles in last year's contest. Many new names are here in 2005 (Mulder, a healthy Pettitte, etc.) and one BIG name is missing (Beltran). Can Houston get over the hump and defeat Fat Albert and the Gang? Read the latest Hot Corner to find out The Commish's expert take.
The Angels showed that the whole "jet lag" and "travel tired" excuses were WAY overhyped as they beat the White Sox in a soundly played game from LA's perspective last night, 3-2, taking a 1-0 lead in the ALCS. The dormant White Sox made a few mistakes and couldn't capitalize on several opportunities with runners on base, but there is plenty of time left in the 7-game series which continues tonight. Hopefully Lou Piniella will get lost on the way to the park. Then the only thing I'll have to complain about is the incessant sound effects every time a stat is displayed on the screen. Jermaine Dye's batting average comes at you like an X-Wing Fighter headed for the Deathstar. Enough, Fox, enough!
Once again, the Braves have faltered when it didn't seem possible. With a minor league lineup and no pitchers left in the 'pen, the Houston Astros snatched victory from defeat, sending the Braves home without a chance at a Game 5. Houston deserves plenty of credit, but by the same token, the Braves have no one to blame but themselves. Shoddy baserunning and failure to hold a late lead did in Atlanta, as the players will watch the NLCS from their couches once again this October.
John Smoltz showed last night why he is still one of the premier aces when it comes to playoff pressure, easily besting Clemens and the 'Stros. Now it's up to the Braves to win without him on the mound. In Boston, the White Sox will try to make quick work of the BoSox, facing Tim Wakefield this afternoon. New York and Los Angeles will face off later tonight, with the Big Unit out to prove he still has a little gas left in his playoff tank.
As usual, the MLB Playoffs have not disappointed, with a thrilling prime time game last night between different colored Sox and a tense matchup in Anaheim for those able to stay up that late. Tonight's game between Houston and Atlanta may trump them all, with Roger Clemens (and his miniscule 1.87 ERA) throwing against postseason warrior John Smoltz (and his 14 playoff wins).
Now we know why Jake Peavy's playoff debut was so dismal (broken rib), but unfortunately none of us here in Chicago were able to hear it thanks to ESPN Radio 1000 in Chicago. The station is supposed to be the "exclusive home" to all the playoff games, yet they have been shipping some games to AM1300, a station many in Chicago can't even get.
Jake Peavy's playoff debut was less than stellar (8 ER), but in a change of pace from the regular season, the Padres offense regrouped for Jake and put the leading run at the plate in the ninth, only to see Ramon Hernandez strike out to end the game. Still, San Diego showed a little resilience after a quick 8-0 beating, indicating the series isn't quite over just yet.
Think it's getting late in the season and announcers are running out of things to say? During Saturday's game between Cleveland and Chicago, Timo Perez lined out, bringing Tadahito Iguchi to the plate. Ed Farmer, radio announcer for the White Sox, said that "in games like this, when the guy in front of him hits the ball hard for an out, Iguchi tends to get an extra base hit." That was paraphrased but pretty close. Games like this? What does that mean? An extra base hit after a hard out? I don't think Farmer had that "stat" on paper. It seemed like the most ridiculous foreshadowing I had ever heard. Of course, Iguchi bailed out the predictive Farmer by, you guessed it, jacking a 3-run homer over the center field wall.
The choke that never was:
While naysayers were screaming "choke" in late September, the Chicago White Sox clinched the AL Central before heading to Cleveland for their final series. Then, the Sox continued to roll as they swept the Indians out of playoff contention, all while resting many of their regulars.