2005 American League Division Series 1
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The 2005 American League Division Series 1 pitted the cursed against the healed. The Chicago White Sox were looking to end an 88-year title drought, but to do so, they had to beat a team that had broken an 86-year curse in 2004. The demons of the 1919 Black Sox scandal had struck down the White Sox in 1959, 1983, 1993, and 2000. What about 2005? The South side of Chicago kept its fingers crossed as the season came to a close. The White Sox held a 15-game lead on August 1st, but a ferocious charge by the Cleveland Indians trimmed the lead to 1 1/2 games by late September. However, Chicago rode out the storm and clinched the division title on September 29th with a 4-2 win over the Detroit Tigers. The team was in first place from wire to wire and finished the season with an American League-best 99-63 record.
Despite finishing with an identical record as the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox were the 2005 American League Wild Card winners, on account of the Yankees holding a 10-9 edge in the season series (there is no one-game playoff when both teams are already assured of playing in the postseason). Just a season before, the Red Sox were America's darlings; the defending champs had won for the first time since 1918. In 2005, they had a different role. Boston entered the postseason without "the Babe" and his so-called curse in the back of the city's mind. Curses are not the only force that can destroy a team. Poor starting pitching, a costly error, and an offensive collapse with the bases loaded knocked the Red Sox out of the postseason - and propelled the White Sox to their first playoff series victory in 88 years.
The Chicago White Sox
The White Sox's offense was led by the power of Paul Konerko, who hit 40 homers and drove in 100 runs, and the speed of Scott Podsednik, who stole 59 bases while leading the club with a .290 batting average. Tadahito Iguchi played well in his first season on American soil. He provided decent pop and average out of the two hole. Carl Everett, Jermaine Dye, and A.J. Pierzynski stood by Konerko in the heart of the order. Aaron Rowand, Juan Uribe, and Joe Crede were excellent defenders with decent bats.
The pitching staff had four aces. Jon Garland paced the rotation with 18 wins, while Jose Contreras, Mark Buehrle, and Freddy Garcia each won at least 14 games. Contreras transformed into the staff ace in the season's second half. He was the hardest thrower in the rotation and had a vicious splitter. Bobby Jenks was the team's closer and could chuck the ball at 100 mph.
The Boston Red Sox
Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz were the faces of the Red Sox. Their power grabbed headlines on a nightly basis. Johnny Damon was Boston's catalyst at the top of the order. The team had a lot of veterans, including Bill Mueller, Trot Nixon, Edgar Renteria, and Jason Varitek. Former White Sox utility infielder Tony Graffanino played second base for Boston in the series. Veteran John Olerud saw time at first base.
The Red Sox pitching staff was not nearly as strong as it had been in 2004. Injuries slowed down both Curt Schilling and Keith Foulke. The Red Sox sent Matt Clement, David Wells and Tim Wakefield to the bump in the series, and each took a loss. Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Timlin, Chad Bradford and Mike Myers were all valuable components of the bullpen.
Game 1 @ U.S. Cellular Field
White Sox 14, Red Sox 2
|WP: Jose Contreras (1-0), LP: Matt Clement (0-1)|
- Attendance: 40,717
The series kicked off with an afternoon game at U.S. Cellular Field. Jose Contreras held Boston scoreless in the top of the 1st, but Matt Clement could not do the same to the White Sox. Scott Podsednik was hit by a pitch to start off the inning. In true "Ozzie-Ball" fashion, Tadahito Iguchi laid down a sacrifice to advance Podsednik to second. Jermaine Dye was hit by a pitch, and Podsednik stole third base. Paul Konerko grounded into an RBI force out to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead. Carl Everett and Aaron Rowand both singled to make the score 2-0. A.J. Pierzynski then homered to give Chicago a 5-0 lead after only one inning.
Konerko gave the White Sox a 6-0 lead with a solo home run in the 3rd. The Red Sox came back with two runs in the 4th. The first scored on a wild pitch and the second on a double by Kevin Millar. Juan Uribe answered back with a two-run shot off Clement in the bottom of the inning. A Uribe RBI single and a Podsednik three-run homer gave Chicago a 12-2 lead in the 6th. Contreras left the game to a standing ovation in the 8th inning. The crowd was not surprised by Contreras's strong outing, but could have never expected the scoring outburst that supported it. The White Sox offense was not considered high-powered, but it delivered the fifth home run of the day in the 8th inning courtesy of Pierzynski.
Neal Cotts and Cliff Politte combined to finish the 14-2 White Sox victory. The South Side of Chicago was abuzz after the club's first playoff victory since 1993, and the first victory at home since 1959. Podsednik joined Lance Johnson as only the second player to go homerless in the regular season and still hit a home run in the postseason.
Game 2 @ U.S. Cellular Field
White Sox 5, Red Sox 4
|WP: Mark Buehrle (1-0), LP: David Wells (0-1), SV: Bobby Jenks (1)|
- Attendance: 40,799
Chicago legend Michael Jordan was on hand for the second game of the series, and his playoff magic may have rubbed off on the home team. With the help of an old friend, the White Sox rallied back from a 4-0 defecit to win Game 2. Two soft-throwing lefties, Mark Buehrle and David Wells, took the rubber. For Buehrle, it was his first postseason start. Wells was a playoff veteran with rings to prove it. "Boomer", as Wells was called, had pitched for the White Sox in 2001. He had left on bad terms, calling out Frank Thomas, and hurting his back by failing to stay in shape.
Boston took the lead in the 1st inning when Manny Ramirez hit a two-run single. The Red Sox tacked on two more runs in the 3rd, on a run-scoring single by Jason Varitek and an RBI force by Trot Nixon. It looked like Wells and the Red Sox were going to cruise to an easy victory against Buehrle.
The Pale Hose finally woke up in 5th inning. Former Boston outfielder, Carl Everett started off the frame with a single. Aaron Rowand drove Everett home with a double. Joe Crede punched home Rowand with a single. Juan Uribe followed with a grounder to Tony Graffanino. It looked like the former White Sox infielder was going to turn a double play, but the ball rolled under Graffanino's mitt. Given new life, Tadahito Iguchi put the Sox ahead, 5-4, with a three-run home run to left field. The stadium erupted and the wind was sucked out of Boston's sails.
Buehrle and Bobby Jenks held the Red Sox scoreless for the rest of the game. Graffanino was the only Boston player to reach second base after the 3rd inning. It was a heroic comeback for Chicago, and it left them in position to sweep the Red Sox two days later.
Game 3 @ Fenway Park
White Sox 5, Red Sox 3
|WP: Freddy Garcia (1-0), LP: Tim Wakefield (0-1), SV: Bobby Jenks (2)|
- Attendance: 35,496
The White Sox finished off Boston in Game 3, but not without some fight from the defending champs. On an overcast day, Chicago took the lead in the 3rd inning with three consecutive two-out hits. The first was a double by Juan Uribe. Scott Podsednik hit a double to drive in Uribe, and a Tadahito Iguchi single drove in Podsednik. Just like that, Tim Wakefield and the Red Sox were down 2-0.
Boston tied the game in the bottom of the 4th off White Sox starter Freddy Garcia. The team's stars, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, delivered back-to-back dingers to lock up the game at 2-2. The score remained that way until Paul Konerko drove a two-run blast over the Green Monster, giving Chicago a 4-2 edge. Ramirez hit his second home run of the game in the bottom half of the 6th, making the score 4-3.
The most dramatic moments of the series followed Ramirez's home run. Damaso Marte relieved Garcia and surrendered a single to Trot Nixon. Marte then walked Bill Mueller and John Olerud. It looked like the Red Sox were on the verge of breaking the game open. Ozzie Guillen called for "El Duque" Hernandez to replace Marte. Hernandez got Jason Varitek to hit a harmless pop-up for the inning's first out. Tony Graffanino did the same for the second out. Johnny Damon stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. The count ran full before Hernandez struck out Damon with a pitch at the batter's ankles.
Hernandez tossed three scoreless innings of relief for the White Sox. Chicago got more support in the 9th when A.J. Pierzynski scored on a Uribe bunt. Bobby Jenks picked up the save with a perfect bottom of the 9th. The White Sox celebrated on the field and in the clubhouse. At one point the team showered "El Duque" with champagne while chanting his name.
|Major League Baseball American League Division Series