World Series Game 4: October 26, 2005
White Sox (4-0), 1
Astros (0-4), 0
W: Freddy Garcia (1-0)
H: Cliff Politte (3)
H: Neal Cotts (2)
S: Bobby Jenks (2)
L: Brad Lidge (0-2)
White Sox win the series 4-0
I have to break down and admit it: this White Sox team reminded me more of the 2004 Red Sox than I care to admit, and not just in the superficial “hey, they both finally won it all and have similar names” ways that you will hear ad infinitum in the mainstream media for months to come. I believe this is why my resistance to them has been so strong: I did not, do not, want to accept that there could be a team that was as inspiring and singular as last year’s Red Sox. Especially since this year’s version played the role of the Angels, which was not the most dignified manner to defend the championship. In retrospect, both Sox teams heated up when they needed to and for a sustained period, relished the role of the underdog, hit in a timely fashion, trotted out quality starting pitchers, and drew upon reliable (for the most part) closers.
There are differences, to be sure. The White Sox payroll this year is $75M; the price tag for the Red Sox of last year was $127M. Chicago had better defense; there’s no equivalent of the two 4-error games the Red Sox had to open their fall classic. For the first time an African American general manager (Ken Williams) and a Latino field manager (Ozzie Guillen) led a championship team. Boston would not sacrifice bunt, while this proved a winning option for Chicago in several instances.
Brandon Backe pitched like a man possessed, as if his life were on the line. Being a native Texan, it was readily apparent he did not want to go down in ignominy. He could have easily let a run slip through in the 7th inning, when Chicago threatened to break the scoreless tie. After getting the first 2 outs easily enough, which is no easy feat when Paul Konerko leads off an inning, Backe gave up a line drive single to Aaron Rowand that bounded into center field. Joe Crede, for whom a case for World Series MVP could be made, then launched a fly ball double that came agonizingly close to being a home run in the miniscule landscape of Minute Maid Park’s left field. Rowand, who isn’t the best at baserunning or reading game situations judging by his bunt attempt that ended in a strikeout in the 4th, stopped at third base because he lagged while heading into second. In an laudable effort, the Galveston-born righty returned his attention to Juan Uribe, who struck out on 4 pitches, the last strike swinging, to end the top of the 7th with the scoreless tie intact.
So, hope, though dwindling, still shone for the Astros. Phil Garner chose to pinch hit Jeff Bagwell in the bottom of that inning in place of Backe, which for the most part is a rational decision. Bagwell’s last hit, a single, occurred on September 27th against the Cardinals, however. The Bagwell of 1994 wasn’t at the plate last night, and nor has he been seen the entirety of the season. Desperate times, desperate measures, I suppose.
Brad Lidge, whose name may unfairly go down in history as a postseason goat, surrendered the only run of the game in the 8th inning to the eventual World Series MVP, Jermaine Dye. As it happened, it was the most mundane of RBIs: Willie Harris leadoff single to left, sacrifice bunt by Scott Podsednik, ground out by pinch hitter Carl Everett to advance Harris, then Dye gutshot ground ball single to plate the run. On the defensive side, White Sox shortstop Uribe initiated all the outs of the final inning, including a play on Orlando Palmeiro’s foul ball that had him weaving into the ambit of the home fans and falling into their midst while simultaneously making a stellar catch for the second out of the 9th. Such a simple sequence of events to end the 88-year dryspell of the second city’s second team.
And just like the Boston Red Sox, who toiled backstage so long while their division nemesis basked in the spotlight, the Chicago White Sox renounced their second class status and became kings of the town.