Pierzynski’s play still all the talk one day later

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—As much hype as A.J. Pierzynski’s heads-up play is generating, manager Ozzie Guillen insists it will mean little if the Chicago White Sox fail to reach the World Series.

“If we win, it’s going to be here forever,” Guillen said as Chicago prepared for Game 3 of the AL championship series against the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.

“If we lose, then we’ll forget about it,” he said. “The thing is, if we win, it’s going to be on the highlights for the rest of the years.”

Everybody was still talking Thursday about Chicago’s controversial 2-1 victory in Game 2, highlighted by Pierzynski’s dash to first base following what appeared to be a swinging strikeout. The White Sox watched replays in the clubhouse before working out at Angel Stadium, while some fans vowed to let plate umpire Doug Eddings have it for what they believe was a blown call that cost the Angels a chance to win in extra innings.

Instead, the best-of-seven series is tied 1-1.

The suddenly popular Pierzynski faced a swarm of reporters and cameras at his locker a day after he scurried to first base in the bottom of the ninth inning. He missed on a low pitch from Angels reliever Kelvim Escobar and appeared to strike out to end the inning.

But Eddings ruled the pitch wasn’t gloved cleanly and hit the dirt. Thinking the inning was over, Angels catcher Josh Paul rolled the ball to the mound with the Angels already coming off the field.

Pierzynski briefly turned to head back to the dugout, then thought to run to first, where he was allowed to stay before giving way to a pinch runner. Moments later, Joe Crede drove in the winning run with a double.

Pierzynski seemed embarrassed by all the attention.

“Unbelievable. I didn’t do anything. I struck out,” said Pierzynski, who jokingly said that he’d received a million messages from friends and family members. “If it was us, we’d be angry too. … I understand why people are fascinated. It’s the playoffs and everything gets magnified. That’s what makes it great.”

Asked whether he pulled off some trickery, he said: “There was no faking. It’s not like I took my helmet off and put my gear on and then ran to first. It happened, and I wish we could get over it.”

At least some of the White Sox agreed.

“Get over it! Let it go!” designated hitter Carl Everett said when he came into the clubhouse Thursday, saying the call was old news.

It won’t be forgotten any time soon, though once Angels starter John Lackey throws his first pitch Friday, at least everybody will have a new game to think about.

Eddings also will go back to work, shifting to right field.

The Angels know their typically well-behaved fans probably will be more riled up than ever when Eddings takes the field, but the club said it didn’t feel the need to beef up security.

Angels spokesman Tim Mead said additional security was hired at Angel Stadium for the AL division series against the New York Yankees last week, and that remains for the ALCS.

“One thing you try to do is focus your attention wherever that concern is,” Mead said. “Really, we don’t anticipate a need for (extra), based on what our fans are known for, which is good behavior. They’ll come here tomorrow and move on. We hope the fans mirror the message of (manager) Mike Scioscia and the ballclub and move forward.”

Eddings is having a hard time moving forward. He told The New York Times that given another chance, he would have been more emphatic in making the call.

“The only thing I’m down on myself is I should have sold it either way,” Eddings said. “I should have either said, ‘No catch,’ or, if I did have a catch, that he was out.”

Major League Baseball believes Eddings will be safe in his spot.

“MLB security is here, and I’m certain they’re checking to make sure everything is up to standard,” said major league baseball vice president Phyllis Merhige. “If they’re satisfied, we’re satisfied.”

On Thursday, Los Angeles players weren’t around to talk about how Game 2 ended, getting the day off to recover from three long flights. The Angels returned from New York early Monday before beating the Yankees in Game 5 of the ALDS, then immediately left for Chicago for Tuesday’s Game 1, then it was back to Southern California after Wednesday’s game.

The only members of the Angels working on the field were paint crews, still putting the final touches on the ALCS logos along the first- and third-base lines.

“There’s a bad feeling any time you lose,” Jarrod Washburn, Wednesday’s losing pitcher, said before the team left Chicago. “A game like this stays with you a little longer. There’s nothing we can do to change it.”

The Angels, 14-5 in the postseason at home dating to 1982, turn to Lackey after the right-hander didn’t get a decision in two starts against the Yankees in the ALDS.

Jon Garland, an 18-game winner from nearby Valencia, takes the mound for Chicago for the first time since beating Cleveland on Oct. 1, the second-to-last day of the regular season.

“Hopefully it doesn’t make me too strong,” Garland said. “I’ve just been really anxious to get on the mound.”

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