White Sox reach World Series

Monday, October 17, 2005

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Not since Shoeless Joe Jackson have the Chicago White Sox caused this much of a commotion.

World Series, here they come.

After nearly a half-century of ho-hum baseball, the White Sox finally made it back Sunday night. A.J. Pierzynski came out on the right side of yet another umpiring ruckus, Jose Contreras pitched Chicago's fourth straight complete game and the White Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 6-3 to win the AL championship series in five games.

The White Sox will take on either Houston or St. Louis, starting at home Saturday night. It will be Chicago's first World Series since 1959, and the White Sox will get a chance at their first title since 1917.

And it will also give them a shot at some long overdue redemption -- they lost the most infamous World Series ever, when Shoeless Joe and his "Black Sox" threw games against Cincinnati in 1919 and gave baseball a black eye.

The 46-year gap between Series appearances is the longest in major league history.

Whoa Nellie!

The last time Chicago's South Side team made it this far, it was all about Nellie Fox and his Go-Go Sox.

"We're in the World Series!" White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf hollered in his suite after the final out.

Reinsdorf once said he would trade all six NBA titles won by his Chicago Bulls for one World Series championship, and his opportunity is coming.

"I still can't believe it," he said, heading to the clubhouse to celebrate with his team. "I'm numb right now. Honest to God, it hasn't sunk in. I think something really good is happening, but I'm not sure what it is."

It's pitching, that what it is.

The White Sox became the first team to pitch four complete games in a single postseason series since the 1956 New York Yankees got them from Whitey Ford, Tom Sturdivant, Don Larsen (his perfect game) and Bob Turley against the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Contreras retired his final 15 batters and pitched a five-hitter, following Mark Buehrle's five-hitter in Game 2, Jon Garland's four-hitter in Game 3 and Freddy Garcia's six-hitter in Game 4.

It was complete domination -- Chicago's bullpen got just two outs in the entire series.

Chicago held the Angels to 11 runs in the series -- the fewest in an ALCS of five or more games. Los Angeles had just 27 hits -- the fewest in any LCS going five games or longer.

Los Angeles was leading 3-2 when Joe Crede hit a leadoff homer in the seventh against loser Kelvim Escobar.

Escobar struck out four in a row, and five overall, before walking Aaron Rowand with two outs in the eighth.

Then, Pierzynski found himself in the middle of another contested call.

In Game 2, he struck out with two outs in the ninth but reached when umpires ruled catcher Josh Paul didn't catch the ball. Crede followed with a winning double that tied the series.

In Game 4, Pierzynski admitted his mitt nicked the bat of Steve Finley, who hit into an inning-ending double play that ended an Angels' rally attempt as umpires failed to make the call.

This time, he hit a comebacker to Escobar, who instead of throwing to first ran to toward the foul line to make a tag play. He tagged Pierzynski with his glove -- but the ball wasn't there, it was in his bare right hand.

Pierzynski initially was called out, but Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen argued, umpires conferenced and reversed the call, bringing Angels manager Mike Scioscia for a dispute.

Los Angeles then brought in closer Francisco Rodriguez to face Crede. K-Rod threw a 1-2 breaking ball that the crowd thought was strike three but was called a ball by plate umpire Ed Rapuano. Rodriguez threw another ball and Crede hit a grounder up the middle.

Second baseman Adam Kennedy dived on the shortstop side to stop it and threw home from a half-sitting position, but the throw was off-line and late, and Rowand scored the go-ahead run.

ALCS MVP Paul Konerko added an RBI double in the ninth and Rowand boosted the margin with a sacrifice fly.

It was the sixth AL pennant for the White Sox, who have won the Series just twice.

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