Monday, October 24, 2005

« White Sox dust off bullpen, win first two »

By Suss
Game 1
        1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 ... R H E
Houston 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 ... 3 7 1
Chicago 1 2 0 1 0 0 0 1 X ... 5 10 0

THE SERIES OPENER featured two former Yankee teammates: Roger Clemens and Jose Contreras. Then again, we needed a talking point going into this series other than "it's close," because nobody knew what to expect.

Chicago's Jermaine Dye began the series with the first run, a solo homer in the first inning. But Houston responded with its first baseman (no, not Jeff Bagwell, the other one) Mike Lamb hitting a homer of his own in the second.

And that lauded pitching duel took a different feel in the third inning, when Clemens was taken out in due to injury and gave way to rookie Wandy Rodriguez who found himself in the middle of a 3-3 game.

Then, in a live interview with Astros pitching coach Jim Hickey -- who was talking about how throwing a rookie in a situation like this can sometimes show what a kid is made of -- Rodriguez (0-1) gave up a home run to Joe Crede, putting the White Sox ahead 4-3, and they would never lose that lead.

The White Sox bullpen came into the game since Game 1 of the ALCS, which was also started by Contreras (1-0). Bobby Jenks notched the team's first save since he saved the clinching Game 3 of the ALCS back on Oct. 7.

Game 2

        1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 ... R H E
Houston 0 1 1 0 2 0 0 0 2 ... 6 9 0
Chicago 0 2 0 0 0 0 4 0 1 ... 7 12 0

A GAME TWO in Chicago is notorious for wacky finishes. But this time, A.J. Pierzynski wasn't much of a factor.

In the seventh inning with a 4-2 Houston lead, Astros reliever Dan Wheeler threw a 3-1 pitch in tight to batter Jermaine Dye which at first seemed to be ball four, but the official ruling was that the pitch hit Dye on the wrist. But replays showed the ball probably hit his bat, which should have been ruled a foul ball. Nevertheless, Dye trotted to first, loading the bases.

After a pitching change, new thrower Chad Qualls' first pitch was carefully placed in the outfield seats by the bat of Paul Konerko, whose grand slam launched the Sox ahead by 2, 6-4.

The SuperStars weren't done, however. In the top of the ninth, pinch hitter Jose Vizcaino laced a single, scoring two runners and tying the game at 6-all.

But Scott Podsednik, who had zero home runs in the regular season, sent the fans home two outs early with a solo home run to right field of Brad Lidge, who is quickly becoming this year's Byung-Hyun Kim.

Bullpen, you say?

CHICAGO LOCKED DOWN the Angels lineup using four straight complete games, using their bullpen for a mere 2/3 inning in the ALCS.

In Game 1 Saturday, those non-starters were pointed to for the first time in 5 games. Neil Cotts, coincidentally the lone gunman from the bullpen in the Angels series, took the ball from manager Ozzie Guillen to relieve Jose Contreras, just like it unfolded in the previous Game 1. And, like his last game, Cotts went 2/3 of an inning.

In fact, both games used the crazy concept of "relief pitching." And in the first two games, their rusty pen has one win and one save.