By Ryne Sandberg, Yahoo Sports
October 24, 2005
I hate to say it, but the Chicago White Sox have destiny on their side. Anyone who has watched the White Sox in the playoffs has seen that glimmer in their eyes – the confidence that they expect to win.
Just as Jose Vizcaino was driving in the game-tying runs Sunday in Game 2 of the World Series, you could tell the White Sox were not deflated. Most teams would've folded and allowed the Houston Astros to take the game and tie the series, but not this team. The White Sox have something else on their side – maybe a higher power.
The Sox have gotten every call in the playoffs. In Game 2 of the ALCS against the Angels, A.J. Pierzynski reached first base on a strikeout to set up the winning run. On Sunday against the Astros, Jermaine Dye fouled a ball off his bat and went to first as if he had been hit by a pitch.
But one thing separates this team from any other: When they get a break, they take advantage of it.
Against the Angels, Pierzynski was replaced by a pinch-runner, who scored when Joe Crede hit a game-winning double. Against the Astros, Dye loaded the bases and Chad Qualls came into the game to face Paul Konerko. On the first pitch, Konerko hit a grand slam to put the White Sox up 6-4. Even though closer Bobby Jenks gave up the lead, the Sox's first batter in the bottom of the inning, Scott Podsednik, hit a walkoff home run.
The blast was the second of the postseason for Podsednik, who did not hit a single home run in the regular season. Also on Sunday, Pierzynski stole his second base of the playoffs, after not stealing a base all year.
I'm telling you: The White Sox have a twinkle in their eyes, a lot like the Red Sox had last year.
Some things to look for in Game 3:
White Sox right-hander Jon Garland never has pitched in Minute Maid Park. He needs to quickly understand that he must pitch away from the short porch in left field. Lance Berkman, Morgan Ensberg and the Astros' other power hitters know they can miss a pitch but still hit it over the fence in left.
Garland, who can spot his fastball on the outside corner, will be forced to try to bust his fastball in on lefties and throw fastballs away to righties. He needs to realize that he may give up a few more hits than he's used to, but a single to right field is better than a home run to left.
On the flip side, the White Sox's hitters have never seen Astros right-hander Roy Oswalt. It could take them some time to get used to the way he changes speeds. He has great arm action on his changeup, and he sets it up perfectly with his tailing fastball.
If the Astros can get a lead, look for them to get Brad Lidge some work – even if it's not a save situation. It's time for Lidge to get his confidence back. He obviously has the stuff to get anyone out, but he seems to have fallen in love with one pitch (breaking balls against the Cardinals and fastballs up against the White Sox). He needs to realize that he has dominating stuff and get back to being a pitcher.
Finally, the White Sox – the AL team that excels at the NL style of play – are playing in an NL park. Look for Ozzie Guillen to play things a little differently. He no longer will have the luxury of bunting or hitting-and-running with his six or seven hitter because now his pitcher will be coming to the plate with runners in scoring position.
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Updated on Monday, Oct 24, 2005 8:51 pm, EDT
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