White Sox bullpen rested after ALCS

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

CHICAGO -- What a way to head to the World Series. Rested and tested.

With a remarkable stretch of four straight complete games, the Chicago White Sox starters gave their bullpen a weekend off and paved the way for the team's first World Series appearance in 46 years.

It was a staggering performance by a pitching staff that helped the White Sox win 99 games. But four complete games in one series after throwing nine all season? Come on.

"They really put on a display of how to pitch," Angels second baseman Adam Kennedy said.

Now the city is buzzing over a team that's waited a long time in a baseball championship-hungry town, one with a pitching staff that dominated the Angels in the ALCS and expects to be tough against either Houston or St. Louis in the World Series.

"Really, you can split that thing five ways," Paul Konerko said of his MVP award. "Those guys were unbelievable."

Chicago reliever Neal Cotts worked two-thirds of an inning in Game 1, throwing seven pitches, and that was it. Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland, Freddy Garcia and Jose Contreras did the rest -- the first time since the 1956 Series that a team has pitched four straight complete games in the same series. The Yankees had five that year.

"In the end, our pitching was amazing," said catcher A.J. Pierzynski. "They deserve so much credit, you can't even describe it. ... I don't know if you'll ever see it again."

The Angels batted just .175 and managed 11 runs and 27 hits in the five games, unable to muster much against the White Sox's foursome.

"It seemed like they were competing against each other, trying to one-up each other," general manager Ken Williams said. "You hope to get one [complete game] and give your bullpen a rest, but this is ridiculous."

Manager Ozzie Guillen made it a point before Sunday's 6-3 clincher to say he doesn't manage with computers or necessarily with statistics; he goes by feel, by instinct. So, leaving his four starters in to go the distance four straight games was no big deal to him, even if it could leave his bullpen rusty once Houston or St. Louis gets to town. Or even if it makes some baseball analysts cringe.

"If you told me in April that Jose Contreras was going to be my ace and Bobby Jenks was going to be my closer, I would tell you I don't think we're going to win this," Guillen said.

But that's how it evolved in the second half of the season. While Contreras was 11-2 after the All-Star break, Buehrle and Garcia were just 6-5 and Garland 5-6. But when the White Sox needed a lift late in the season and again in the playoffs, they responded.

"I think my pitching staff threw the ball well when we needed it," Guillen said. "Boston and here. I think that's the key."

Whether it be the Astros or the Cardinals, the starting pitching matchups are enticing.

For two days, the White Sox will savor what they've accomplished. They'll stay away from the field and resume workouts Wednesday before hosting the first two games Saturday and Sunday.

Getting to the World Series for the first time since 1959 is one thing, winning it for the first time since 1917 would be quite another.

"It feels awfully good," chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said. "As excited as I am now, I know no matter what happens, we still have work to do."

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