SERIES: World Series; White Sox, 1-0.
The Yankees often gave the veteran left-hander the ball in the second game, doing so three times in the 2003 playoffs after dropping the opener. Pettitte responded by going 3-0 with a 1.21 ERA in those outings to help New York avoid a two-game hole.
The Astros tabbed Pettitte to start the openers of their first two series this postseason. He is 1-1 with a 4.66 ERA in three starts overall.
“I realize I’ve had a lot of good starts, also, but I’ve had a lot of bad ones,” Pettitte said. “And I really don’t know, I mean I have been able to come up big on some occasions when they needed a big start out of me and stuff like that. And I think just the more chances and the more opportunities you have to do this you just feel more and more comfortable with it.”
Pettitte is 3-4 with a 3.90 ERA in 10 career starts in the World Series— all with New York. His best effort came in his first one—Game 5 of the 1996 World Series against Atlanta—when he allowed five hits over 8 1-3 sparkling innings in a 1-0 victory that gave the Yankees a 3-2 series lead.
The Texan is relishing the opportunity to try to give the Astros their first World Series victory in franchise history.
“Well, it’s definitely a little different,” Pettitte said. “To tell you the truth, for me, personally, a lot of pressure. I know I was putting a lot of pressure on myself for that reason, 44 years, never been here, the opportunity to get here was just right in front of us. And I think like I’ve been saying for me, this is right there with my first trip in ’96.”
Pettitte will take the mound one day after Roger Clemens lasted only two inning before leaving due to his recurrent hamstring injury in a 5-3 loss in the opener. Joe Crede belted a go-ahead solo homer for Chicago in the fourth inning and its stellar pitching did the rest.
“Anytime you can go out there in a situation with the game of this kind of magnitude and go out and help your team win, it does nothing but help build your confidence for the next game and your teammates’ confidence and hopefully you can gain the momentum and ride it into the next game,” Crede said.
Starter Jose Contreras allowed three runs and six hits over seven-plus innings and relievers Neal Cotts and Bobby Jenks combined to strike out five of the last six batters as Chicago improved to 8-1 in the postseason. Cotts pitched for the first time since Oct. 11 and struck out a pair with the tying run at third and none out in the eighth and Jenks—pitching for the first time since Oct. 7—fanned three of his four batters.
It marked the first appearance for White Sox relievers since the opener of the ALCS.
“I don’t think we had a statement,” Cotts said. “We felt ready and we’re prepared for whatever they need us for.”
Contreras received help from his defense in the sixth inning as third baseman Crede made a nice stop on a hard grounder by Morgan Ensberg with the tying run on third and one out. After getting out of that inning, the Cuban right-hander ended the seventh by retiring Craig Biggio with runners at the corners.
Jermaine Dye homered off Clemens in the first inning and Scott Podsednik gave Chicago an insurance run in the eighth with a two-out RBI triple. Dye has four RBIs in his last five games after failing to drive in a run in Chicago’s first four playoff games.
White Sox starter Mark Buehrle will take the mound Sunday looking to continue his success at home. Buehrle, who will be making his World Series debut, went 10-2 with a 2.48 ERA in 17 starts at U.S. Cellular Field during the regular season and is 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA in his two playoff outings—both at home.
“Last year was totally opposite,” Buehrle said. “My numbers—it’s just one of those years. I don’t know if the wind was blowing in or it was a little cold or the balls were flying out. If I did it every year, there would be something to it. But last year was totally opposite, so I have no clue what the difference is.”
The 26-year-old left-hander was outstanding his last time out in Game 2 of the ALCS, limiting the Los Angeles Angels to five hits in a 2-1 win on Oct. 12. Buehrle threw 71 of 99 pitches for strikes and did not issue a walk.
“I think Mark is one of the most underrated pitchers in the game right now,” Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Astros - NL wild-card winners; beat Atlanta Braves 3-1, NL division series; beat St. Louis Cardinals 4-2, NL championship series. White Sox - AL Central champions; beat Boston Red Sox 3-0, AL division series; beat Los Angeles Angels 4-1, AL championship series.
PROJECTED LINEUPS: Astros - 2B Biggio (.264, 26 HRs, 69 RBIs, 17 HBP), CF Taveras (.291, 3, 29), LF Lance Berkman (.293, 24, 82, 91 walks), 3B Ensberg (.283, 36, 101), 1B Lamb (.236, 12, 53), DH Jeff Bagwell (.250, 3, 19), RF Jason Lane (.267, 26, 78), C Brad Ausmus (.258, 3, 47); SS Adam Everett (.248, 11, 54). White Sox - LF Podsednik (.290, 0, 25, 59 SBs), 2B Tadahito Iguchi (.278, 15, 71), RF Dye (.274, 31, 86), 1B Paul Konerko (.283, 40, 100, 98 runs), DH Carl Everett (.251, 23, 87), CF Aaron Rowand (.270, 13, 69), C A.J. Pierzynski (.257, 18, 56), 3B Crede (.252, 22, 62), SS Juan Uribe (.252, 16, 71).
ASTROS PROBABLE STARTING PITCHER: Pettitte (1-1, 4.66 ERA). Pettitte is 3-6 with a 6.33 ERA in 10 career starts at U.S. Cellular Field. He went 7-1 in nine starts at Yankee Stadium against Chicago, and overall is 10-7 with a 4.28 ERA in 19 starts against the White Sox.
WHITE SOX PROBABLE STARTING PITCHER: Buehrle (2-0, 2.81 ERA). Buehrle has never faced Houston and has faced only two hitters in the Astros lineup— Ausmus and Lamb.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Astros - 1B Bagwell started for the first time since May 3 and went 0-for-2 with two HBP as the DH. Bagwell had been limited to pinch-hitting duties since undergoing right shoulder surgery. … 3B Ensberg is hitting .190 (4-for-21) with no extra-base hits over his last six games. … RHP Chad Qualls has yielded one hit over 8 1-3 scoreless innings, spanning his last six postseason appearances. White Sox - 1B Konerko is hitting .391 (9-for-23) in his career against LHP Pettitte. … RHP Jenks is the seventh rookie to earn a save in the World Series. … OF Podsednik has hit safely in seven of nine postseason games, batting .303 (10-for-33) with seven runs scored.
POSTSEASON ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Astros - 3-3 on the road. White Sox - 4-1 at home.