I DON’T REMEMBER the exact day I was talking about the White Sox, but it was a little bit after the July 31 trading deadline. My friend Cullen asked me why the White Sox didn’t make any big trades.
I didn’t have a complete answer, but I did notice at the deadline they acquired utilityman Geoff Blum from the Padres.
He said something along the lines of, “Oh, well then, that must make them the best team ever.”
I had forgotten about that brief but typical baseball banter moment until last night. So … eat it, Cullen.
Blum, in the 14th inning of a 5-5 tie game, fired a 2-out home run to right center field off the Astros’ Ezequiel Astacio to break the deadlock. Another run later, the White Sox had themelves a 7-5 victory in Game 3 of the World Series and a commanding 3-0 lead in the series.
One more win would make it the second World Series sweep by a Sox team in as many years, and just as many curses broken.
And while reporters scrambled to find as many tidbits about Blum (he used to play for the Astros, and he graduated with a degree in sociology from Cal-Berkeley), they may quickly forget how the game became tied.
Oswalt had a chance
EVERYONE EXPECTED HOUSTON starter Roy Oswalt to throw another gem of a game. And the NLCS MVP, through four innings, was not only meeting everyone’s expectations, he had a 4-0 lead.
In the fifth, the expectations went up in a puff of white smoke.
Who provided the runs? Take two guesses.
Joe Crede led off the top of the 5th with a solo home run, and A.J. Pierzynski capped off the inning with an emphatic two-run double to put his team up 5-4. Betwixt those two everpresent batters were RBI singles courtesy of Tadahito Iguchi and Jermaine Dye.
Oswalt’s line prior to the fifth: 4 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB.
Oswalt’s final line: 6 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 5 BB.
Not a great line this late in the playoffs.
Bagwell had his chance too
AFTER A FIFTEEN year career without a World Series appearance, Jeff Bagwell reached the Final Showdown with a bad shoulder and a heavy heart.
And he was given a chance to provide a big hit for his team, with
baserunner Brad Ausmus at second and a one-run deficit.
But in Garland’s final inning, he got Bagwell to hit a harmless pop fly to the mound.
“The jut” prevented Lane from being hero
The haunting memory of “the jut” is going to be etched in the heads of a few observant Astro fans.
Houston’s Jason Lane belted a liner down the left field line which bounced in fair play, then hooked over the foul line and caught the edge of the left field seats. The ball ricocheted back into short left field, scoring Morgan Ensberg.
But had that ball been a foot or two closer to fair territory, the double would have rolled all the way to the back wall, and the runner on first, Eric Bruntlett, should have had enough gas to make it home.
Instead, the bad bounce force Bruntlett to hold up at third, and the game was tied instead of 6-5.
Buehrle knows no rest
While the White Sox were beginning to pull away in the top of the 14th, fans and cameras could see a left-handed pitcher warm up in the bullpen.
But Neil Cotts had already pitched, and Damaso Marte was already in the game. Their only other lefty is Mark Buehrle, the man who started the previous game in Chicago.
But Buehrle was getting ready in case Marte (1-0) had trouble closing it out in the 14th. And when Marte walked Orlando Palmeiro and fielder Juan Uribe couldn’t handle Brad Ausmus’ standard ground ball, Marte found himself in a pickle.
So manager Ozzie Guillen walked out and tapped his left arm.
Buerhle came into the game and threw just three pitches, getting Adam Everett to pop up to Uribe, who was sure to put two hands on the ball this time.
TIM MCCARVER SUMMED it up only the way Tim McCarver could during a baseball broadcast: “In the time it took to play this game, you could have flown from Baltimore to Iceland.”
You know me. I have to fact check that.
Orbitz.com says the flight time from Baltimore, Maryland to Reykjavik, Iceland is 5 hours, 35 minutes. Time of Game 3? 5 hours, 41 minutes.
Tim just looked rather smart for once, and he most likely has his statisticians to thank for that.
Lidge bounces back
Lidge came into the top of the ninth inning with a runner on and 2 outs worked 1 1/3 inning while striking out 3 of the 4 batters he faced, and not allowing that runner to score with a tie game. Maybe he’s not such a Byung-Hyun Kim after all.
Sweep or survival?
The first World Series by a team from Texas could be a short, painful one if Game 4 doesn’t turn out as planned.
The White Sox offer up Freddy Garcia tonight, while Houston will ask Brandon Backe to prolong their season (8 p.m., FOX)