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Archive for Monday, October 17, 2005

Celebration in Chicago

White Sox top Angels to clinch Series spot

October 17, 2005

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— Not since Shoeless Joe Jackson have the Chicago White Sox caused this much of a commotion.

World Series, here they come for the first time since 1959.

A.J. Pierzynski came out on the right side of yet another umpiring ruckus, Jose Contreras pitched Chicago's fourth straight complete game, and the White Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels, 6-3, Sunday night to win the AL championship series in five games.

The White Sox will take on either Houston or St. Louis, starting at home Saturday night. After nearly a half-century of ho-hum baseball, the White Sox will get a chance at their first title since 1917.

And it will also give them a shot at some long overdue redemption - they lost the most infamous World Series ever, when Shoeless Joe and his "Black Sox" threw games against Cincinnati in 1919 and gave the sport a black eye.

The 46-year gap between Series appearances is the longest in major-league history. The Chicago Cubs will end up with an even longer one, if they ever get back - their last NL pennant was in 1945.

"It finally puts us above the Cubs, because they've been getting all the credit," said bench coach Harold Baines, who played more than 13 of his 22 seasons with the White Sox.

"We're in the World Series!" White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf hollered in his suite after the final out.


Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, left, hugs pitcher Jose Contreras as they celebrate after winning the American League pennant. The White Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels, 6-3, Sunday in Anaheim, Calif., and clinched a spot in the World Series.

Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, left, hugs pitcher Jose Contreras as they celebrate after winning the American League pennant. The White Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels, 6-3, Sunday in Anaheim, Calif., and clinched a spot in the World Series.

Reinsdorf once said he would trade all six NBA titles won by his Chicago Bulls for one World Series championship, and his opportunity is coming.

"I still can't believe it," he said, heading to the clubhouse to celebrate with his team. "I'm numb right now. Honest to God, it hasn't sunk in. I think something really good is happening, but I'm not sure what it is."

It's pitching, that's what.

Manager Ozzie Guillen's team became the first club to pitch four complete games in a single postseason series since the 1956 New York Yankees got them from Whitey Ford, Tom Sturdivant, Don Larsen (his perfect game) and Bob Turley against the Brooklyn Dodgers.

"Our pitching has set the tone for us from day one," leadoff man Scott Podsednik said. "They don't have words to describe what our starting staff has gone out and done this series."

Pitching in drizzle on an un-Californialike night, Contreras retired his final 15 batters and pitched a five-hitter, following Mark Buehrle's five-hitter in Game 2, Jon Garland's four-hitter in Game 3 and Freddy Garcia's six-hitter in Game 4.

"You might call it lucky, you might call it great, but we stepped it up," Contreras said through a translator.

It was complete domination - Chicago's bullpen got just two outs in the entire series.

Chicago held the Angels to a .175 batting average and 11 runs in the series - the fewest in an ALCS of five or more games. Los Angeles had just 27 hits - the fewest in any LCS going five games or longer.

"I've never seen four horses like that that come out of the gate," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

Los Angeles was leading 3-2 when Joe Crede hit a leadoff homer in the seventh against loser Kelvim Escobar.

Escobar struck out four in a row, and five overall, before walking Aaron Rowand with two outs in the eighth.

Then, Pierzynski found himself in the middle of another contested call.

In Game 2, he struck out with two outs in the ninth but reached when umpires ruled catcher Josh Paul didn't catch the ball. Crede followed with a winning double that tied the series.

In Game 4, Pierzynski admitted his mitt nicked the bat of Steve Finley, who hit into an inning-ending double play that ended an Angels' rally attempt as umpires failed to make the call.

This time, he hit a comebacker that bounced off Escobar, who instead of throwing to first ran to toward the foul line to make a tag play. He tagged Pierzynski with his glove - but the ball wasn't there, it was in his bare right hand.

Pierzynski initially was called out, but Guillen argued, umpires conferenced and reversed the call, bringing Scioscia out for a dispute.

"I tried to get the ball in the glove, I didn't have a chance," Escobar said. "Everything seemed to go their way."

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