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Home » 2005 PostseasonOctober 2005 » Getting Off Scott-Free

Getting Off Scott-Free

World Series Game 2: October 23, 2005
Astros (0-2), 6
White Sox (2-0), 7
H: Dan Wheeler (1)
BS: Chad Qualls (1)
L: Brad Lidge (1-0)
H: Cliff Politte (1)
BS: Bobby Jenks (1)
W: Neal Cotts (1-0)

White Sox lead the series 2-0

What began as a duel between the left-handed aces turned into a battle between the bullpens. And what would a White Sox game be without an umpiring controversy? The second game of the World Series with its lead changes and dramatic homers did not disappoint any except for Houston fans.

Mark Buehrle was fairly effective but far from his usual dominant self, pitching 7 innings with a line of 7 hits, 4 earned runs, no walks, 6 strikeouts, and 1 home run, a solo shot by Morgan Ensberg in the 2nd inning. The 5th inning could have been much worse than the 2 go-ahead runs driven by Lance Berkman’s 2-out double, but Buehrle recovered and he did not allow the next 7 batters to reach base.

Postseason exemplar Andy Pettitte pitched 6 innings with 8 hits, 2 earned runs, and 4 strikeouts. His 5th inning was also eventful. After relinquishing a leadoff ground ball double to Juan Uribe, Pettitte induced a short fly out to center from Scott Podsednik, keeping the antsy Uribe pinned to second base. With the count full to Tadahito Iguchi, the Astros’ lefty snagged a sharply hit ball and proceeded towards the left part of the infield to nab Uribe. Pettitte was merciless against his prey as he flawlessly executed a rundown with only a single throw. With similar sang-froid he picked off Iguchi to end the inning.

The bottom of the 7th inning reminded me of the 2004 ALCS Game 7 grand slam by Johnny Damon. The details vary, but the template is there: the beseiged pitcher who allowed the bases to get loaded is replaced by a bullpen arm only to give up a home run. The batter must know to expect a strike, so he can narrow the zone of where he expects the ball and then swing with abandon. Paul Konerko put his team ahead with a single swing on the first pitch. The score remained 6-4 until the 9th.

How the bases got loaded is a point of controversy. In the replay, it is difficult to see if Jermaine Dye was actually hit by Dan Wheeler’s pitch, which happened with a full count. But that’s what Jeff Nelson called it, and he did not deign to consult with the other umpires. He should have had the best view of that particular play, anyway, and yet the lack of official replay continues to impact the playoffs.

Would the legend of Bobby Jenks continue to grow? Could it (or he) get any larger? After looking lost in Game 1 against the cheese-dealing hulk, Jeff Bagwell muscled a looping single into shallow center field. The next two batters represented the extremes of Jenks: Jason Lane struck out on 3 straight pitches while Chris Burke walked on 4. Brad Ausmus grounded out to first base, but the placement allowed the runners to advance. Jose Vizcaino made Phil Garner look like a genius with his pinch hit line drive into the left field to score 2 runs for the tie. Jeremy Giambi take note: Burke scored the second run by sliding to avoid the tag while reaching for the plate with his hand. Sliding, quite a novel concept.

Podsednik hit his second home run of the postseason to win the game. Such a sight isn’t unfamiliar to the eyes of Red Sox fans. But Brad Lidge gave up his second game-losing round-tripper, something mournfully reminiscent to Houston fans. Will the Astros recover from their second gut punch loss in less than a week?

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