You wouldn't think that the best way to get off the schneid would be a date with a future Hall of Famer.
But that's exactly how the White Sox broke out of a disastrous slump in the middle of an otherwise dominant 2005 season.
As explained last week during #SoxRewind, not everything was sunshine and lollipops for the White Sox on the road to their World Series championship. They went just 12-16 in August, a losing record dragged down due in large part to a seven-game losing streak against the Red Sox, Twins and Yankees.
Ahead 15 games in the AL Central race when the month of August started, by the end of this losing streak, that lead was down to eight and a half games. While the losing streak started with a nail-biting 9-8 defeat in Boston, the White Sox scored just 12 runs in the next six games and just two runs over the final three losses in the stretch.
A.J. Pierzynski had this to say during the skid:
"It seems like we're just going through the motions, and it's very ugly. It's really sad because we did so much work to be where we are, and it doesn't seem like there's any fight in us right now."
On Sunday, Aug. 21, they faced a third straight sweep, this one against the Yankees on the South Side. And while Randy Johnson's first year in The Bronx wasn't looking like the kind of video-game numbers he put up with the Diamondbacks, he was still a future Hall of Famer. He was still the Big Unit.
Well, the White Sox bats broke out of their deep freeze against the unlikeliest of opponents. And they did it in stunning fashion.
Johnson pretty much cruised through the game's first three innings. Then came a one-out onslaught in the fourth.
First it was Tadahito Iguchi:
Then it was Aaron Rowand:
Then it was Paul Konerko:
Three straight homers. Put it on the board, put it on the board, put it on the board. Yes, yes, yes.
But the White Sox weren't done there. Jermaine Dye and Juan Uribe followed the tic-tac-toe with back-to-back singles. Chris Widger got to Johnson one more time, taking him deep for a three-run shot that busted the game wide open.
One inning, four homers, six runs. Mercy!
Johnson, as good pitchers have a habit of doing, refocused and ended up throwing more than 100 pitches and going the distance in a losing effort. But the White Sox exploded out of their slump, and they did it against a guy who had dominated them in the past. While Johnson spent his previous six seasons in the National League - not having faced the White Sox as an American Leaguer since prior to Konerko's arrival on the South Side - he entered this game with an 11-3 record and a 2.79 ERA in 17 career starts against the White Sox.
Johnson ended the 2005 season with 17 wins and a 3.79 ERA, perfectly respectable numbers but ones that still paled in comparison to the six-year clinic he put on in Phoenix: 103 wins, a 2.65 ERA, four NL Cy Young Awards, five All-Star appearances and a World Series ring against these same Yankees in 2001.
Though this win snapped that seven-game skid and started a stretch of five victories in six contests, the White Sox were not out of the August woods quite yet. They ended the month with four losses in five games and saw their division lead shrink to seven games.
But given how fast that gap between them and the Indians was evaporating, an outburst like this against Johnson served as a course correction. Instead of the aftermath of a brutal collapse, the final weeks of the regular season were instead a memorable race for the division title.
While the Indians stayed white hot, the White Sox put an end to their mid-August bleeding and went 25-17 the rest of the way.
And it all started with a slump-busting slugfest against one of the all-time greats.
#SoxRewind rolls on Tuesday, when you can catch the Aug. 24, 2005, game against the Twins, starting at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. Carl Everett drives in a bunch of runs ahead of a white-knuckle bottom of the ninth at the Metrodome.
White Sox 2005 Rewind: Randy Johnson unlikely victim of slump-busting slugfest originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago