How exciting it was to actually be there in the stands to witness the battle between the Angels and the White Sox at US Cellular Field before a jam packed house! We got there early enough to grab a dog at the hot dog place two blocks west of the ball park on 35th. Being a vegetarian I bring my own veggie dog from home, they throw it in the steamer, put it on a bun, apply all the fixings, pile on the french fries, and it looks like a regular Chicago style hot dog to all the world. All this for $2.06, can’t beat it! The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim arrived in Chicago at 6:00 AM after beating the New York Yankees in seven. They were assisted in their contest when a questionable call went their way. Yankee Robinson Cano was ruled out at first base because he didn’t run outside the foul line to first, yet Darrin Erstad was setup outside the foul line, and had Cano done what he was supposed to do there would have been a nasty collision. I’ve seen guys try to interfere with throws and there was no way Cano was trying to, nor did he interfere with this play. Yet the home plate ump called him out when Erstad dropped the throw from Bengie Molina on a dropped third strike, which would have resulted in the bases being loaded for the Bronx Bombers. I belabor this call because of an incident which would occur in the Sox/Angels series. But I’m truly ahead of myself at this point. 40,000+ fans were already writing the Angels off. They were tired AND their best starter Bartolo Colon was left off the playoff roster due to a sore shoulder. But it was the White Sox who appeared to be sleep walking as the Angels went up 1-0 in the 2nd inning when Garret Anderson took a Jose Contreras over the rightfield wall. Then the Angels added a couple of more runs in the 3rd when Steve Finley singled to right, Adam Kennedy singled to left, Chone Figgins bunted them up, Orlando Cabrera knocked one in and one over with an infield single. Vladimir Guerrero stepped to the plate and hit a slow comebacker to the mound (unbelieveably this would be his only RBI of the series). Contreras threw to 2nd in an effort for an inning ending doubleplay, but the relay was late and Kennedy scored, putting the Halos up 3-0. If Jose would have chosen to come home, the 3rd run doesn’t score. No second guessing there, just stating a fact. The White Sox offense woke up in the bottom of the frame when Joe Crede took Paul Byrd yard. With one out in the 4th Carl Everett singled, moved up on an Aaron Rowand ground out, and came home on a single to right by A.J. Pierzynski, making the score 3-2 Bad Guys. That was the way the contest ended. Contreras deserved a better fate, but he did allow the 3rd run to score when he could have prevented it. Jose went 8 1/3 innings before giving way to Neal Cotts in the 9th. Paul Byrd allowed two runs in six innings of work. The final three innings were masterfly worked by Scot Shields (2 innings) & Francisco Rodriguez was brought on for the save. The loss was the sixth without a win at home for the White Sox in ALCS games. Billy Pierce, the winningest pitcher in Sox history and a member of the 1959 AL Pennant White Sox team threw out the first pitch. Unexplanably Al Lopez chose not to start Billy in the World Series versus the Los Angeles Dodgers. Game #2 featured a pitching matchup that looked to be advantage White Sox. Mark Buehrle the AL starting pitcher in this year’s All Star game was matched up against Jarrod Washburn who was fighting off the effects of a viral infection. Washburn’s error allowed the first White Sox batter Scott Podesednik to reach 2nd base, Tadahito Iguchi bunted him to 3rd, and he scored on a Jermaine Dye groundout to short. Robb Quinlan tied the score at one with a leadoff homer in the 5th. There were some incredible plays throughout this game. In the 2nd inning Aaron Rowand doubled to right, went to third when a hobbling Vladimir Guerrero bobbled the ball for an error, and tried to score when the throw went up the thirdbase line. But Quinlan made an outstanding play throwing to Jose Molina who applied the tag to a head first sliding Rowand. In the bottom of the 5th Brendan Donnelly was brought on to thwart a two out bases loaded rally striking out Dye on three pitches. Then in the 7th Joe Crede was doubled off 2nd base on a liner off the bat of Juan Uribe to end the frame. And then in the top of the eighth Scott Podsednik robbed Orlando Cabrera by plucking his ball off the leftfield wall with a runner on 3rd and two outs. With two outs and nobody on for the White Sox the play would occur that would define this series. A.J. Pierzynski struckout, took one step toward the dugout, before high tailing it to first base, as Josh Paul rolled the ball back to the mound. I was sitting in the rightfield stands and after watching the play ten times at home on Tivo I’m still not sure if the ball hit the dirt. What I think happened is this, the ball hit the webbing of Josh Paul’s mitt, and bounced into the pocket. The home plate umpire, the infamous Doug Eddings, heard two sounds and thought it hit the dirt, so did A.J. Pierzynski. Josh Paul felt the ball in his mitt. The only question is, why didn’t Paul tag A.J. out? A.J. said he never heard the umpire call him out and took off for first base. Maybe the Angels should have had a Molina brother behind the plate. Josh Paul used to play for the White Sox and has always had plays like this happen when he’s in the game. He’s a fast catcher and when he used to come in as a pinch runner he’d get thrown out on the bases. Now it was the Angels turn. And Joe Crede didn’t allow reliever Kelvim Escobar off the hook as he delivered a game winning double on an 0-2 pitch off the leftfield wall to score pinch runner Pablo Ozuna from 2nd base, Ozuna had stolen second. Mark Buehrle went the distance allowing only one run for the win. After all of this excitement I couldn’t allow my boys to head out west without me tagging along for the games. Read the exciting conclusion of the White Sox Win the Pennant – Part III.

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