SERIES: AL Championship Series; Angels, 1-0.
Tired or not, the Los Angeles Angels are three wins from the World Series.
Too ill to make his scheduled start in Game 4 of the division series against the New York Yankees, Washburn had to watch helplessly as Los Angeles dropped Saturday’s game at Yankee Stadium before pulling out a series-clinching 5-3 win Monday night in Anaheim.
“Those were the hardest two games I’ve ever watched in my life, having to sit in a room by myself, having to watch it on TV and can’t help,” Washburn said. “It was tough. Watching games and sitting in the dugout on games you’re not pitching is pretty tough, but it’s something you’re used to because that’s your job as a starting pitcher. But I really didn’t feel like part of the team.”
Washburn will also be trying to make up for a disastrous appearance in last year’s division series against Boston.
The veteran left-hander entered Game 3 at Fenway Park in the bottom of the 10th inning with one on, two outs and David Ortiz at the plate with the score tied. His first pitch to the Red Sox slugger was deposited over the Green Monster, giving Boston a three-game sweep.
“Last year definitely didn’t end the way I wanted to,” Washburn said. “I am eager to get out there and erase those memories.”
He’ll get that chance with a 1-0 series lead after Los Angeles edged Chicago 3-2 on Tuesday night.
The victory came as a surprise to many because Los Angeles was playing its third game in as many nights in a different time zone. But there’s little time for fatigue when you’re playing for a spot in the World Series.
“We’ve had a couple of redeye flights and guys haven’t really complained. I don’t know if we’re delirious or what,” Byrd said after picking up his first career postseason win.
Garret Anderson homered and Orlando Cabrera and Vladimir Guerrero each drove in a run for the Angels, who are trying to get back to the Fall Classic for the first time since winning the franchise’s first championship in 2002.
“As I said before the game, I don’t believe they would be tired. As soon as you put a uniform on, you forget about pains,” said manager Ozzie Guillen, who is trying to lead the White Sox to their first World Series since 1959.
“It was to our advantage, all the traveling stuff, but they showed us and they showed everybody that that’s not the truth.”
Chicago had won eight in a row before falling short Tuesday, managing just five hits against Byrd. The White Sox, who hit five homers and scored 14 runs in their division series opener against Boston last week, got a solo homer from Joe Crede in the third inning and A.J. Pierzynski’s RBI single in the fourth before the Angels shut the door.
“Anytime you don’t hit well and don’t throw up a lot of offense it looks flat,” Chicago’s Paul Konerko said. “It doesn’t matter if you had days off or if it is the middle of the season or whatever.
“We didn’t play well and we lost by a run. If we tighten up our game a little bit it will be better for us. That’s what we do, why we are here and we’ve been successful doing that all year.”
Left-hander Mark Buehrle will try to get the White Sox even. He was shaky but ultimately successful in his first career playoff start in Game 2 against Boston last Wednesday. He gave up four runs in the first three innings, but picked up a victory after the White Sox rallied for a 5-4 win, settling down to allow eight hits over seven innings.
Buehrle only faced the Angels once this season, and was hit hard, allowing five runs and 10 hits over six innings in a 6-5 loss on Sept. 9.
In his career against Los Angeles, Buehrle is 1-2 with a 3.80 ERA in 10 appearances, including nine starts.
“They’re one of the better offenses in baseball, and I think it’s proven that they go out there and scored a lot of runs during the season,” Buehrle said of the Angels.
Washburn faced the White Sox three times this season, going 0-1 with a 6.11 ERA. For his career, he is 4-5 with a 4.22 ERA in 13 starts against Chicago.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Angels - AL West champions, beat Yankees 3-2 in ALDS. White Sox - AL Central champions, beat Boston 3-0 in ALDS.
PROJECTED LINEUPS: Angels - CF or 3B Chone Figgins (.290, 8 HRs, 57 RBIs, MLB-high 62 SBs, 64 BBs), SS Cabrera (.257, 8, 57, 21 SBs), RF Guerrero (.317, 32, 108, .394 on-base percentage), C Bengie Molina (.295, 15, 69), DH Anderson (.283, 17, 96), LF Juan Rivera (.271, 15, 59), 1B Darin Erstad (.273, 7, 66), CF Steve Finley (.222, 12, 54) or 3B Robb Quinlan (.231, 5, 14), 2B Adam Kennedy (.300, 2, 37). White Sox - LF Scott Podsednik (.290, 59 SBs), 2B Tadahito Iguchi (.278, 15 HRs, 71 RBIs, 15 SBs), RF Jermaine Dye (.274, 31, 86), 1B Konerko (.283, 40, 100, 98 runs), DH Carl Everett (.251, 23, 87), CF Aaron Rowand (.270, 13, 69, 16 SBs), C Pierzynski (.257, 18, 56), 3B Crede (.252, 22, 62), SS Juan Uribe (.252, 16, 71).
ANGELS PROBABLE STARTING PITCHER: Washburn (8-8, 3.20 ERA). Washburn finished with the fourth-lowest ERA in the AL, but only managed a .500 record despite allowing three earned runs or fewer in 23 of his 29 starts.
WHITE SOX PROBABLE STARTING PITCHER: Buehrle (16-8, 3.12 ERA). Buehrle, who went 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA in six September starts, went 10-2 with a 2.48 ERA in 17 home starts this season.
REGULAR SEASON SERIES: Angels, 6-4.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Angels - SS Cabrera is hitting .391 (9-for-23) with a home run and seven RBIs in his career against LHP Buehrle. … The Angels won the last four meetings of the regular season between the teams, including a three-game sweep in Chicago from Sept. 9-11. … 1B Erstad is hitting .368 (7-for-19) in his career against LHP Buehrle. White Sox - OF Dye is hitting .447 (17-for-38) with two homers and eight RBIs in his career against LHP Washburn. … When the series shifts to Anaheim for the middle three games, Guillen will use RHP Jon Garland, an 18-game winner, in Game 3 with RHP Freddy Garcia in Game 4. … 1B Konerko is hitting .378 (14-for-37) with four home runs and 11 RBIs against Washburn.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Angels - 2-1 on the road. White Sox - 2-1 at home.