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Home » 2005 PostseasonOctober 2005 » First Inning Fireworks

First Inning Fireworks

World Series Game 1: October 22, 2005
Astros (0-1), 3
White Sox (1-0), 5
L: Wandy Rodriguez (0-1)
W: Jose Contreras (1-0)
H: Neal Cotts (1)
S: Bobby Jenks (1)

White Sox lead the series 1-0

The score from last night was familiar. It was the score of Game 3 of the 2005 ALDS, the last game of the Red Sox season. And with that wistful remembrance, on with the colorless socks versus the Jetsons’ pet postseason.

When your home stadium sets off fireworks in the 1st inning of the World Series for a homerun because of tradition, one would almost prefer the legacy of the Black Sox scandal rather than Bill Veeck’s. Everyone recalls the things Veeck would do for publicity, from Eddie Gaedel to Disco Demolition Night. What goes unremembered is that he was the first to sign an African American to an American League team (Larry Doby to the Indians in 1947) and that he signed the oldest rookie in major league history as well (Satchel Paige in 1948, when the pitcher was 42).

Roger Clemens, himself now 43, entered the majors in 1984, the year prior to Ozzie Guillen’s debut. The 7-time Cy Young award winner and one-time MVP did not live up to his past excellence and lasted only 2 innings while giving up 4 hits, 3 earned runs (including the firework-prompting Jermaine Dye 1st inning jack), no walks, and striking out one. Clemens contiues to be an unknown quantity in the playoffs. Before, his mental composure was questioned; but now, it is apparent that the decades have weathered him to something less than his former glory. He left the game after reaggravating a hamstring injury.

Wandy Rodriguez was able to keep Houston in the game for the 3.1 innings he pitched, although Phil Garner tempted fate when he kept the lefty into the 6th inning with Joe Crede leading off. Rodriguez had barely escaped a huge 5th inning in which he walked the leadoff hitter and gave up a single. Ozzie Guillen gave the Astros an out by calling a sacrifice bunt play with designated hitter Carl Everett at the plate, which I suppose why some think he should be named Manager of the Year. I didn’t realize the criteria included transforming outs into lost opportunities.

With runners on second and third and 1 out, Garner called for Aaron Rowand to be intentionally walked to load the bases. The move worked as my new nemesis, the smug A.J. Pierzynski, promptly grounded into a 3-6-1 double play.

It’s not superior managing that wins games, however, but execution. Chicago bullpen pitchers Neal Cotts and Bobby Jenks combined for 2 innings of nearly perfect pitching, yielding only 1 hit and striking out the rest. The killer B’s were anything but, and the Astros were a paltry 2 out of 11 with runners in scoring position. Several hard-hit balls were snuffed by Crede, and the White Sox proved the oft-repeated maxim that pitching and defense wins championships.

Showboating does not, however. Could Jenks possibly be a little more demonstrative on the mound? He’s like a latter-day hillbilly Francisco Rodriguez. Sure, he’s as explosive as US Cellular Field’s scoreboard, but just because that is reminiscent of the bush leagues doesn’t mean that he should be as well.

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