Top 10 game-changing plays of Sox 2005 WS run

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Top 10 game-changing plays of Sox 2005 WS run

Tuesday, October 26, 2010
3:15 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

Happy anniversary, Chicago White Sox fans.

Five years ago today, the South Siders won two games that clinched their first World Series in 88 years.

The sorta daynight World Series doubleheader -- won on Geoff Blums homerMark Buehrles save (!) in the early morning of Oct. 26, 2005 and Jermaine Dyes singleJuan Uribes defense later that night to cap the sweep -- made this date magical for millions of White Sox fans, including me.

I was lucky enough to be in the stands for every home game and even filmed some of the most extraordinary moments of the playoffs, including Paul Konerkos grand slam in Game 1 of the World Series. I shared every home playoff win with my father, and also some with my wife and uncle. None of us were under the illusion that World Series wins would become routine for the White Sox, so the mixture of joy and shock over each victory was almost instantly cherished and pressed into a scrapbook.

After taking a look at the starting pitching that drove the White Sox through the 2005 postseason, its time to count down the 10 biggest momentum-changing plays of Chicagos playoff run.

This is no ordinary, emotional list, mind you. Im tapping into the in-game statistic called Winning Teams Win Probability Added (wWPA), which calculates the amount that each play increased or decreased the eventual winning teams probability of winning the game.

10. Joe Credes ALCS Game 5 home run (19 wWPA)
Crede was pure clutch vs. the Anaheim Angels, with three different hits in the American League Championship Series making this top 10 list, including two in the Game 5 clincher, in successive innings. This was his first of Game 5, a game-tying solo home run leading off the seventh inning. It was a rude greeting for Kelvim Escobar, who you might recall was the pitcher who kept the White Sox alive in Game 2 by walking off the field after striking out A.J. Pierzynski on a ball in the dirt.

9. Paul Konerkos ALDS Game 3 homer (22 wWPA)
Orlando Hernandezs perfect relief effort in the sixth inning, famously depicted in the monument at Champions Plaza outside of U.S. Cellular Field, wouldnt have been possible without Konerkos clout in the top of the inning. After a Jermaine Dye leadoff walk, Konerko took a 1-1 floater from Boston Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield deep, pushing the White Sox to a 4-2 lead they would not relinquish (Incidentally, while no one batter Hernandez retired in the bottom of the inning individually qualified for the top 10, the veterans perfect sixth increased Chicagos chances of winning Game 3 by 35, which would nearly top this list; when Damaso Marte exited the sixth with the sacks packed and none out, the White Sox had a 33 chance of winning the game, but after Hernandez extinguished the fire, Chicagos chances had been raised to 68).

8. Dyes World Series Game 4 single (24 wWPA)
This hit alone, given the relative lack of offense or a dominating pitching effort beyond Freddy Garcias Game 4 work, earned Dye World Series MVP honors. The sole run of the title clincher for the White Sox was achieved in true Ozzieball fashion, as Willie Harris pinch-hit for Garcia in the eighth and slapped a single to left, Scott Podsednik bunted Harris to second, Carl Everett pulled a grounder that advanced Harris to third and Dye dinked a 1-0 pitch from Brad Lidge that turned into a seeing-eye single up the middle and the final offensive highlight for Chicago on the season.

7. Credes ALCS Game 5 single (25 wWPA)
Crede deserved to win the ALCS MVP based on Game 5 alone. After tying the game with a solo shot in the seventh (No. 10), Crede battled Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez and tapped a 3-2, two-out single up the middle to put the White Sox up, 4-3, a lead they would not relinquish.

6. Pierzynskis World Series Game 3 double (27 wWPA)
While the feisty White Sox catcher is better known for stealing first base on a ninth-inning, Game 2 dropped third strike that changed the course of the ALCS, that play increased Chicagos chance of a Game 2 win just 3. It was Pierzynskis two-out, two-run double in the top of the fifth to put the White Sox up, 5-4, that was his most decisive play of the postseason. The Houston Astros would rally to tie the game, but Pierzynskis hit capped a five-run fifth that rallied the White Sox back from a 4-0 deficit.

5. Tadahito Iguchis ALDS Game 2 round-tripper (37 wWPA)
This was another potential series-saving hit. Iguchi slapped a David Wells curveball for a two-out, three-run homer to left that gave the White Sox a 5-4 lead. Two batters earlier, Juan Uribe tapped a potential double-play grounder to Red Sox second baseman Tony Graffanino, but the ex-South Sider let the ball squirt through his legs, extending the inning. Chicagos lead would hold up for four more innings, two of them hurled by rookie Bobby Jenks.

4. Joe Credes ALCS Game 2 double (39 wWPA)
Because the plays came with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Pierzynskis advance to first on a dropped third strike merely upped the White Soxs chances of winning Game 2 by 3, pinch-runner Pablo Ozunas steal of second by 4. With just one more out in the inning, the White Sox still had just a 61 chance of winning the game as Crede stepped into the box vs. Escobar. The third sackers double into the left-field corner, on an 0-2 count to boot, sent the series to the West Coast knotted at 1.

3. Geoff Blums World Series Game 3 home run (41 wWPA)
Ahead in the count, 2-0, against rookie righty Ezequiel Astacio, Blum carved a permanent place in White Sox lore with a two-out, pinch-hit 14th-inning liner over the right-field fence that gave the White Sox a 6-5 lead and would put the Pale Hose on the brink of their first title in 88 years (Conspiracy theorists, take note: Joe West was the left-field umpire in Game 3, while Angel Hernandez was at third base).

2. Podsedniks World Series Game 2 blast (41 wWPA)Scotty Pods gets the nod at No. 2 because his dinger actually won a World Series game for the White Sox. When Uribe flied out to center to start the bottom of the ninth, Chicagos chances of winning Game 2 fell to just 59, dangerously close to even odds. But with just one out in the bottom of the ninth and Lidge struggling with his intensity, Podsednik drove a 2-1 offering out to right-center, surprising everyone in the ballpark; the speedy leadoff hitter hadnt had a home run in the entire 2005 regular season. The seat that Scotty Pods sneak-bomb landed on is colored its original blue to this day.

1. Konerkos World Series Game 2 grand slam (58 wWPA)
After Uribe doubled, Iguchi walked and Dye pantomimed his way to first on a hit by pitch, the White Sox first baseman stepped up to the plate again with a chance to be a hero. The game was in the bottom of the seventh, so even with the bases juiced there were just seven outs left in Chicagos holster and the Sox had just a 28 of coming back to win the game. That likelihood jumped to 86 after Konerko stole back momentum with a first-pitch grand slam off of Chad Qualls, turning a 4-2 deficit into a 6-4 White Sox lead and keeping the left-field seat where PKs blast landed permanently blue as well. Houston would tie the game on Jose Vizcainos two-out, two-run single off Jenks in the ninth, but as we all know now, that base tap was a mere setup for Podsedniks heroics.
Honorable Mentions: Konerkos first-inning, full-count, three-run homer off Ervin Santana in Game 4 of the ALCS (17 wWPA); Pierzynskis first-inning, three-run homer off Matt Clement in Game 1 of the ALDS (16); Neal Cotts' strikeout of Mike Lamb with one out and runners at the corners in the eighth inning of Game 1 of the World Series (16); and Jenks' strikeout of Jeff Bagwell with two outs and runners on second and third in the eighth inning of Game 1 of the World Series (15).

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

Preview: White Sox start series at Twins tonight on CSN

Preview: White Sox start series at Twins tonight on CSN

 

The White Sox take on the Twins on Friday, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 7 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 (8-8, 2.97 ERA) vs. Ricky Nolasco (4-8, 5.40 ERA)

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Back with White Sox, Chris Sale ready to move on from 'fiasco'

Back with White Sox, Chris Sale ready to move on from 'fiasco'

Even though he felt isolated and experienced a five-day stretch he called “a fiasco,” Chris Sale was right where he wants to be Thursday, surrounded by White Sox teammates.

Shortly after a 3-1 loss to the Cubs, the pitcher echoed the sentiments of White Sox management in a 10-minute media session when he suggested he’d like to move on from a five-game suspension for insubordination and destruction of team property.

With the trade deadline only four days away, Sale wants to stay with the White Sox and hopes the current roster gets an opportunity to win. He also thought an incident in which he destroyed promotional throwback jerseys had been blown out of proportion.

While he didn’t apologize for his actions, the left-hander said he regretted letting down his teammates and fans who attended Saturday’s game. Sale, whose record fell to 14-4 after he allowed two runs in six innings, said he plans to address White Sox players and coaches soon and intends to let them know his level of appreciation.

“I want to let them know where my head is at, where my heart is at,” Sale said. “And let them know how much I appreciate them.

“I felt like I was out on an island, really. 7 o’clock rolls around and I usually know what’s going on. Sitting at the house sucks.

“I regret not being there for my guys. I’m a pitcher. I’m called upon every fifth day and when I can’t go out there for my guys and the fans, it gets to me.”

Similar to March when he pitched a day after ripping executive vice president Kenny Williams, Sale said his focus is back on the field. He declined to answer what he didn’t like about the throwback jerseys, calling it “counterproductive.” Even though the White Sox are on the outside looking in, Sale is hopeful he and his teammates can rally and make a strong postseason push over the final 60 games.

“I think everyone is making just a little bit bigger deal of this than it really is,” Sale said. “We are here to win games and from this point forward, I think that’s our main focus. We are going to come in every day and do our jobs and try to win ballgames, that’s at the forefront.

“I don’t like people filling in for me. I love what I do. I love pitching. I love competing. I love the guys that I’m surrounded by.”

“When I let them down, it hurts me more than it hurts them.”

Three days after he suggested manager Robin Ventura didn’t properly support him, Sale declined to discuss their future relationship and again diverted the conversation back to the field. When asked what was the biggest lesson he took from the ordeal, Sale said he wasn’t quite sure.

“I know you guys are trying to get in there and you guys have to write stories and stuff,” Sale said. “I understand. But they said their side. I said my side. I’m ready to talk about baseball and playing baseball and getting back to winning and getting the Chicago White Sox into the postseason. That’s my goal. That’s my focus. Anything else, that’s for you guys.”

While he admits that his competitive side may have fed into Saturday’s events, he also knows abandoning it would hurt him on the field. Sale said he was inundated by texts and calls from teammates past and present during his absence. That only strengthened his desire to win with the current group, Sale said.

“There’s no doubt my emotions have got me to this point,” he said. “I wouldn’t be the same person without them but stuff happens. Move on. We have an unbelievable group of guys in that clubhouse. We’ll just push forward.

“I’m here to win. I love exactly where I’m at. I have an unbelievable group of guys in that clubhouse. We’re pulling for each other, they are pulling for me and vice versa, through and through. I’d like to stay with this group of guys and make a push for the playoffs because I love those guys.”

White Sox find normalcy in Chris Sale's return from suspension

White Sox find normalcy in Chris Sale's return from suspension

The word of the day Thursday around the cramped confines of the visitor’s clubhouse at Wrigley Field was normal, as in getting things back to it with ace left-hander Chris Sale taking the mound after serving a five-game suspension for “insubordination and destruction of team property.”

A completely abnormal story — Sale cut up the 1976 throwback uniforms he didn’t want to wear last Saturday and was sent home for his actions — gave way to a relatively routine evening. Sale allowed two runs on six hits with three walks and four strikeouts over six innings, though the White Sox lineup was shut down by John Lackey and the Cubs’ new three-headed bullpen monster in a 3-1 Crosstown loss.

“Things were pretty normal,” manager Robin Ventura said. “Guys got here, not a different clubhouse or anything like that. I think everything went fairly normal as far as him going out there and pitching and it was about baseball.”

First baseman Jose Abreu said things felt like an ordinary Sale start, even though the American League’s All-Star starting pitcher hadn’t pitched since July 18. He didn’t have his best stuff and wasn’t his sharpest, either — those three walks were his highest total in over two months — as he wasn’t able to consistently paint the corners with his explosive arsenal of pitches.

But, as usual, Sale worked quickly and kept his team in the game against one of baseball’s best offenses.

“He pitched a very good game,” Abreu said through a translator.

The Cuban first baseman added: “I think that we already moved on.”

Catcher Dioner Navarro agreed.

“He gave us a great outing, we just weren’t able to score any runs for him,” Navarro said.

Before the game, third baseman Todd Frazier said he and his teammates rallied around Sale and hoped a solid outing from the 27-year-old left-hander would put the bizarre incident squarely in the rearview mirror. 

“Some mistakes are bigger than others but you gotta understand that we’re all not perfect,” Frazier said. “Things do happen in this game, different things that you think (you’ve) never seen before, and then it happens. It’s just one of those things, hopefully it goes away quick with the way he pitches."

Sale said he didn’t discuss the incident or his suspension with his teammates before the game to keep things as normal as possible. After he showed up a little after 4:40 p.m., he received hugs and handshakes from teammates welcoming him back following his five-day exile.

But after that, Navarro said things were business as usual. He and Sale went through the gameplan and got ready to face the Cubs' powerful lineup instead of dwelling on what happened last Saturday. Eventually, Sale will talk to his coaches and teammates on a personal level to “let them know where my head is at, where my heart is at, and let them know how much I appreciate them.”

With the White Sox playoff hopes flickering as the trade deadline approaches, though, Sale’s teammates are eager to keep the focus on trying to dig themselves out of a substantial, two-games-under-.500 hole.

“Everything’s in the past,” Navarro said. “He did a great job. Quality start, nothing else you can ask.”