2005's 'Lucky' wins: Sox starter dominance revisited

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2005's 'Lucky' wins: Sox starter dominance revisited

Sunday, Oct. 24, 2010
8:31 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

Saturday marked the five-year anniversary of Scott Podsedniks dramatic home run to defeat the Houston Astros and give the Chicago White Sox a 2-0 lead in the 2005 World Series, and Monday marks five years since Geoff Blum became a member of the Chisox Hall of Heroes.

Those dramatic pokes aside, its common knowledge that it was an uncanny combination of great fielding, timely hitting and exquisite starting pitching with an accent on the latter that decisively delivered the White Sox a title with a record-tying 11-1 run through the postseason.

This look at lucky postseason winners led to digging deeper into the miraculous run of pitching Chicago enjoyed in 2005, and its a fun stroll, indeed.

First, as for the lucky postseason winners, Steve Lombardi of Baseball-Reference went back and compiled a list of every pitcher with more than one playoff start that resulted in both a game score of less than 50 (i.e. not a quality start) and a win. As it turns out, of the 12 pitchers Lombardi found, Freddy Garcia was one, and his Oct. 7, 2005 ALDS start at the Boston was one of his lucky wins. (Orlando Hernandez is also among the 12 pitchers, but he didnt make a start for the White Sox in the 2005 postseason).

For a guy with a postseason record of 6-2, Garcia has turned in four sub-50 game score efforts out of nine career starts, so he was lucky in his playoff stints with the Seattle Mariners as well (it was in Seattle where he won his first lucky playoff start, turning in a 46 to earn the win in Game 5 of the 2000 ALCS).

Game 3 of the 2005 ALDS at Fenway Park is when Garcia won his second lucky game, going five innings with four walks, a strikeout, and three earned runs in trotting out a game score of 42 the worst effort of Chicagos 12 postseason starts in 2005. Garcia gave up just five hits, but three of them were solo home runs back-to-back jacks to David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez to lead off the fourth inning, and another to Ramirez in his next at-bat, leading off the sixth.

Also remarkable about Garcias win secured only after Hernandezs classic sixth inning (and perfect seventh) in relief of the starter and a woeful effort by lefty Damaso Marte is that it followed the second-worst effort by a White Sox starter in the 2005 playoffs, Mark Buehrles Game 2 win, which was a seven-inning, one-walk, two-K, four-earned run effort that reaped a game score of 46. Those two starts vs. Boston were the only game scores of less than the quality standard of 50 for the entire White Sox postseason.

Garcia, in fact, got markedly better. His game score for his Game 4, complete-game win in Anaheim was a 71 (following up on 77 efforts from Buehrle and Jon Garland) and his effort in Game 4 of the World Series was a 73, chasing mediocre starts from Jose Contreras (55), Buehrle (53) and Garland (53).

Some other crazy outcomes of the 11-1 playoff run for the White Sox:

Matt Clement, Bostons Game 1 starter, had a game score of 14 after surrendering eight earned runs and three homers in just 3 13 innings.

Boston starters had higher game scores than their White Sox counterparts in the rest of the series, David Wells outpitching Buehrle in Game 2, 48-46, and Tim Wakefield outdueling Garcia in the clincher, 43-42.

In Game 1 of the ALCS, the situation reversed, as Contreras had a game score of 61 but lost to Paul Byrd and his 54. Remember, that game turned in part on Aaron Rowands inability to bunt Pablo Ozuna to second with no outs in the ninth inning vs. Francisco Rodriguez.

Chicagos amazing streak of four consecutive complete games in the ALCS vs. the Angels was the enduring characteristic of the entire 2005 postseason. But in addition, of all five games of the series, the White Sox rotation pitched all but two-thirds of an inning (Cotts relieved Contreras with one out in the ninth inning of Game 1); that means that the White Sox rotation recorded 98.5 of the outs in the ALCS and threw 98.7 of the pitches in the series.

Contreras seven-inning effort to begin the World Series meant that a stretch of 43 straight innings were hurled solely by the four White Sox starters and a stretch of 51 13 of 52 ALCSWorld Series innings (24 13 of them from Contreras alone) came from Chicagos starters.

Although Garcias game score of 73 in Game 4 of the World Series was his best of the playoffs and the third-best of the White Sox postseason, Houston Astros starter Brandon Backe bested him with a 74.

Garland was truly an unsung hero of the postseason, with game scores of 77 and 53 in his two playoff wins, for a team-best average of 65. He also saved 6.3 runs (Base-Out Runs Saved, or RE24), bettering Garcia (6), Contreras (5.2) and Buehrle (3.5). Its worth noting that Garland was the only White Sox pitcher to withstand less pressure than averageexpected (his aLI or Average Leverage Index being less than one), which likely aided his performance.

White Sox starters earned decisions in all but two of the 12 playoff games in 2005, and in every one of the first nine (8-1).

Using Win Probability Added, the three most dominating games by White Sox starters in the 2005 playoffs were Buehrle in Game 2 of the ALCS (.588 WPA, with a 1 WPA meaning the pitcher was worth a win for his performance alone), Garcia in the World Series-clincher (.447) and Garland in Game 3 of the ALCS (.306).

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

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The White Sox take on the Red Sox on Tuesday, and you can catch all the action on CSN and live streaming on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports App.

Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Jose Quintana (2-6, 4.82 ERA) vs. Chris Sale (5-2, 2.34 ERA)

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