White Sox

Top 10 game-changing plays of Sox 2005 WS run

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Top 10 game-changing plays of Sox 2005 WS run

Tuesday, October 26, 2010
3:15 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

Happy anniversary, Chicago White Sox fans.

Five years ago today, the South Siders won two games that clinched their first World Series in 88 years.

The sorta daynight World Series doubleheader -- won on Geoff Blums homerMark Buehrles save (!) in the early morning of Oct. 26, 2005 and Jermaine Dyes singleJuan Uribes defense later that night to cap the sweep -- made this date magical for millions of White Sox fans, including me.

I was lucky enough to be in the stands for every home game and even filmed some of the most extraordinary moments of the playoffs, including Paul Konerkos grand slam in Game 1 of the World Series. I shared every home playoff win with my father, and also some with my wife and uncle. None of us were under the illusion that World Series wins would become routine for the White Sox, so the mixture of joy and shock over each victory was almost instantly cherished and pressed into a scrapbook.

After taking a look at the starting pitching that drove the White Sox through the 2005 postseason, its time to count down the 10 biggest momentum-changing plays of Chicagos playoff run.

This is no ordinary, emotional list, mind you. Im tapping into the in-game statistic called Winning Teams Win Probability Added (wWPA), which calculates the amount that each play increased or decreased the eventual winning teams probability of winning the game.

10. Joe Credes ALCS Game 5 home run (19 wWPA)
Crede was pure clutch vs. the Anaheim Angels, with three different hits in the American League Championship Series making this top 10 list, including two in the Game 5 clincher, in successive innings. This was his first of Game 5, a game-tying solo home run leading off the seventh inning. It was a rude greeting for Kelvim Escobar, who you might recall was the pitcher who kept the White Sox alive in Game 2 by walking off the field after striking out A.J. Pierzynski on a ball in the dirt.

9. Paul Konerkos ALDS Game 3 homer (22 wWPA)
Orlando Hernandezs perfect relief effort in the sixth inning, famously depicted in the monument at Champions Plaza outside of U.S. Cellular Field, wouldnt have been possible without Konerkos clout in the top of the inning. After a Jermaine Dye leadoff walk, Konerko took a 1-1 floater from Boston Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield deep, pushing the White Sox to a 4-2 lead they would not relinquish (Incidentally, while no one batter Hernandez retired in the bottom of the inning individually qualified for the top 10, the veterans perfect sixth increased Chicagos chances of winning Game 3 by 35, which would nearly top this list; when Damaso Marte exited the sixth with the sacks packed and none out, the White Sox had a 33 chance of winning the game, but after Hernandez extinguished the fire, Chicagos chances had been raised to 68).

8. Dyes World Series Game 4 single (24 wWPA)
This hit alone, given the relative lack of offense or a dominating pitching effort beyond Freddy Garcias Game 4 work, earned Dye World Series MVP honors. The sole run of the title clincher for the White Sox was achieved in true Ozzieball fashion, as Willie Harris pinch-hit for Garcia in the eighth and slapped a single to left, Scott Podsednik bunted Harris to second, Carl Everett pulled a grounder that advanced Harris to third and Dye dinked a 1-0 pitch from Brad Lidge that turned into a seeing-eye single up the middle and the final offensive highlight for Chicago on the season.

7. Credes ALCS Game 5 single (25 wWPA)
Crede deserved to win the ALCS MVP based on Game 5 alone. After tying the game with a solo shot in the seventh (No. 10), Crede battled Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez and tapped a 3-2, two-out single up the middle to put the White Sox up, 4-3, a lead they would not relinquish.

6. Pierzynskis World Series Game 3 double (27 wWPA)
While the feisty White Sox catcher is better known for stealing first base on a ninth-inning, Game 2 dropped third strike that changed the course of the ALCS, that play increased Chicagos chance of a Game 2 win just 3. It was Pierzynskis two-out, two-run double in the top of the fifth to put the White Sox up, 5-4, that was his most decisive play of the postseason. The Houston Astros would rally to tie the game, but Pierzynskis hit capped a five-run fifth that rallied the White Sox back from a 4-0 deficit.

5. Tadahito Iguchis ALDS Game 2 round-tripper (37 wWPA)
This was another potential series-saving hit. Iguchi slapped a David Wells curveball for a two-out, three-run homer to left that gave the White Sox a 5-4 lead. Two batters earlier, Juan Uribe tapped a potential double-play grounder to Red Sox second baseman Tony Graffanino, but the ex-South Sider let the ball squirt through his legs, extending the inning. Chicagos lead would hold up for four more innings, two of them hurled by rookie Bobby Jenks.

4. Joe Credes ALCS Game 2 double (39 wWPA)
Because the plays came with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Pierzynskis advance to first on a dropped third strike merely upped the White Soxs chances of winning Game 2 by 3, pinch-runner Pablo Ozunas steal of second by 4. With just one more out in the inning, the White Sox still had just a 61 chance of winning the game as Crede stepped into the box vs. Escobar. The third sackers double into the left-field corner, on an 0-2 count to boot, sent the series to the West Coast knotted at 1.

3. Geoff Blums World Series Game 3 home run (41 wWPA)
Ahead in the count, 2-0, against rookie righty Ezequiel Astacio, Blum carved a permanent place in White Sox lore with a two-out, pinch-hit 14th-inning liner over the right-field fence that gave the White Sox a 6-5 lead and would put the Pale Hose on the brink of their first title in 88 years (Conspiracy theorists, take note: Joe West was the left-field umpire in Game 3, while Angel Hernandez was at third base).

2. Podsedniks World Series Game 2 blast (41 wWPA)Scotty Pods gets the nod at No. 2 because his dinger actually won a World Series game for the White Sox. When Uribe flied out to center to start the bottom of the ninth, Chicagos chances of winning Game 2 fell to just 59, dangerously close to even odds. But with just one out in the bottom of the ninth and Lidge struggling with his intensity, Podsednik drove a 2-1 offering out to right-center, surprising everyone in the ballpark; the speedy leadoff hitter hadnt had a home run in the entire 2005 regular season. The seat that Scotty Pods sneak-bomb landed on is colored its original blue to this day.

1. Konerkos World Series Game 2 grand slam (58 wWPA)
After Uribe doubled, Iguchi walked and Dye pantomimed his way to first on a hit by pitch, the White Sox first baseman stepped up to the plate again with a chance to be a hero. The game was in the bottom of the seventh, so even with the bases juiced there were just seven outs left in Chicagos holster and the Sox had just a 28 of coming back to win the game. That likelihood jumped to 86 after Konerko stole back momentum with a first-pitch grand slam off of Chad Qualls, turning a 4-2 deficit into a 6-4 White Sox lead and keeping the left-field seat where PKs blast landed permanently blue as well. Houston would tie the game on Jose Vizcainos two-out, two-run single off Jenks in the ninth, but as we all know now, that base tap was a mere setup for Podsedniks heroics.
Honorable Mentions: Konerkos first-inning, full-count, three-run homer off Ervin Santana in Game 4 of the ALCS (17 wWPA); Pierzynskis first-inning, three-run homer off Matt Clement in Game 1 of the ALDS (16); Neal Cotts' strikeout of Mike Lamb with one out and runners at the corners in the eighth inning of Game 1 of the World Series (16); and Jenks' strikeout of Jeff Bagwell with two outs and runners on second and third in the eighth inning of Game 1 of the World Series (15).

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

Jace Fry, who still hasn't allowed a hit, is penciling his name into the White Sox bullpen of the future

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USA TODAY

Jace Fry, who still hasn't allowed a hit, is penciling his name into the White Sox bullpen of the future

The White Sox best reliever through the first 42 games of this rebuilding season? Undoubtedly, it’s been Jace Fry.

With Rick Renteria’s bullpen hardly the most reliable relief corps the game has ever seen, Fry has been a revelation, starting his 2018 campaign with 7.1 scoreless innings over six appearances.

And now things are getting a bit more dramatic for the 24-year-old lefty, a guy who’s been through a pair of Tommy John surgeries. He pitched some high-leverage ball in Saturday night’s 5-3 win, sitting down all four hitters he faced in the eighth and ninth innings while protecting a two-run lead.

“I was ready the whole game, just waiting for my name to be called,” Fry said. “But it was awesome getting in there in the eighth inning, even getting the first guy in the ninth inning. After I got him I was kind of hoping he’d let me keep going.”

Renteria uses his bullpen in a non-traditional manner, one that perhaps he thinks is a way of the future or one that’s a result of his lack of dominant options out there. Whichever it is, he doesn’t really have a closer but rather a host of guys he uses in those high-leverage situations, whenever they might come during the late stages of a game. Joakim Soria, Nate Jones and Bruce Rondon have all been used to get big outs late in games, and Rondon threw a scoreless seventh Saturday, with Jones getting the game’s final two outs for the save.

But it could be argued that most difficult outs were recorded by Fry, who put away the visiting Texas Rangers’ fourth, fifth and sixth hitters before getting the seventh hitter to strike out to start off the ninth.

Renteria steered away from dubbing Fry one of his new high-leverage guys after the game, but why wouldn’t Fry be in that mix? All he’s done since joining the big league squad earlier this month is get outs. He’s got 10 strikeouts, hasn’t allowed a hit and has just two walks as the lone blemishes on an otherwise perfect season line.

“It just happens to be that it was the eighth inning and the ninth that he pitched,” Renteria said. “I think he’s looking very comfortable in those. It happens to be the eighth and ninth we needed him. He’s been very, very effective. He’s been commanding the strike zone very well, confidently approaching his hitters. He’s got pretty good stuff.

“He’s able to command the zone. Along with that nice breaking ball he’s got to lefties and righties, it’s pretty effective. But he’s continuing to show you he’s capable of coming in and getting some pretty good hitters.”

Fry has been a rarity this season in that he’s appeared to be a candidate for a long-term spot in the White Sox bullpen. Jones would perhaps be the only other guy coming close to qualifying for that, mostly because of his team-friendly contract that keeps him under control a few more years, but he’s had some rough moments, even with his ERA dropping to 3.50 on Saturday.

Fry, though, is young and is dealing at the moment. He even got a shoutout as a potential long-term piece from general manager Rick Hahn earlier this week.

“Take Jace Fry, someone we haven’t mentioned when we’ve had this conversation the last couple of weeks,” Hahn said Thursday, discussing the positives he’s seen during this developmental season. “He’s shown up here and shown that he’s made some progress in his last stint in the minors and now, at age 24, seems like he’s ready to take that next step, and pencil his name in as part of what we’re building here going forward.”

There’s a lot of season left, and no one’s expecting Fry to keep batters hitless and opposing teams scoreless from now through the end of September. But this is a nice development for the rebuilding White Sox at the moment, a guy who’s giving them at least one name to put into that bullpen of the future.

How long can he keep this thing going? As long as he keeps getting ahead of hitters.

“Having the success is awesome, but I realize it’s the plan, the plan of attack,” Fry said. “I’m going out and throwing Strike 1 and getting ahead. Actually doing it, seeing it and having the process work definitely creates more confidence. Once you go back to the blueprint of baseball, Strike 1 is everything.”

Carson Fulmer's demotion and the current state of the White Sox rotation provide several rebuilding reminders

Carson Fulmer's demotion and the current state of the White Sox rotation provide several rebuilding reminders

Carson Fulmer getting sent to Triple-A following Friday’s game might be, to this point, the biggest development this season on the South Side.

Fulmer doesn’t carry the same expectations as higher-rated prospects like Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen or Dane Dunning, but this is a top-10 draft pick who the White Sox still believe can play a significant role in their bright future. And he’s struggling. Badly. Once his ERA jumped up past 8.00 thanks to his third straight brief and run-filled outing, the White Sox made the decision to send him to Charlotte.

It leaves the White Sox rotation looking like this: James Shields, a struggling Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Hector Santiago and either Chris Volstad or the recently summoned Dylan Covey.

Four of those guys (Shields, Santiago, Volstad and Covey) don’t figure to play a role in the team’s long-term future, and Giolito is dealing with his own significant struggles, leading the American League in walks heading into his Saturday-night start. Lopez has been the rotation’s bright spot, but even he watched his ERA climb more than a full point after allowing six runs in two innings his last time out.

It’s not a great state for the rotation to be in if you, like the White Sox, have your sights set on the long-term future of this team, though it probably won’t look like that for too much longer. Still, it provides a few valuable reminders about not only this rebuilding effort but rebuilds in general.

This season is about development, and this is what development looks like

For better or worse, this is what development looks like. The White Sox own baseball’s worst record, and general manager Rick Hahn has been among the large number of White Sox fans to voice their disappointment over play that has been sloppy at times.

Fulmer’s struggles fall into the same category and serve as a reminder that growing pains like this are going to happen. We’ve seen it with Fulmer. We’ve seen it with Giolito. We’ve seen it with Lopez. Heck, we’ve seen it with Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson, too.

But more than wins and losses, this is what this season is about. Hahn calls it “the hardest part of the rebuild” because it features guys getting lit up and games being lost. The hope is that Fulmer can figure things out in the minors and that Giolito won’t require a similar demotion to right his ship. And if everything turns out all right, then this will be an easily forgotten chapter in both of those players’ development.

In the moment, though, it’s another reminder that rebuilds take time and that the waiting game provides minimal fun.

Each player’s development has a different trajectory

Just because Fulmer is getting bumped down to Triple-A doesn’t mean he can’t still turn into a successful major league pitcher. Player development and rebuilds aren’t linear, as rebuilders like to say. And to expect every prospect to travel in a straight line from potential to big league stardom doesn't make much sense.

“We reiterate, ‘It’s not the end of your career,’” Renteria said Saturday. “This is simply a reboot, a reset. Ultimately, I think after the initial shock for any player, they settle down and they understand exactly what’s going on when you look at it logically and look in the mirror. I think it’s easy to logically look at it and say, ‘I need to work on x, y and z.’

“This is a good kid with a really positive attitude and a lot of confidence. I think he’ll look in the mirror and go, ‘You know what, I got things I can work on, I’ll settle in and get over this initial bump and get to work.’ Those are the guys that end up giving themselves a chance to return sooner rather than later and have success.”

Not all prospects pan out

The other side of that coin is the reminder that not every single one of the White Sox wealth of prospects will pan out. Hahn & Co. have prepared for that and built up an incredible amount of prospect depth, but when someone doesn't live up to expectations, it will be painful.

This isn’t to suggest that Fulmer, specifically, won’t pan out, but it’s to point out that not everyone will. That’s a crowded-looking rotation of the future with Kopech, Hansen, Dunning, Fulmer, Giolito, Lopez, Carlos Rodon and Dylan Cease all competing for those eventual five spots. Rather than the White Sox having to make tough decisions about who will be left out, certainly a possibility, the developments of those pitchers might make those decisions for them.

Renteria is confident that Fulmer will be back in the big leagues, and there’s little reason to think that this is the end of Fulmer’s opportunity. But not every top-10 pick reaches All-Star status.

The future is on the way

The current starting rotation might have fans asking why the heck it looks like it does. But a month or two from now it will look drastically different.

Rodon makes his first rehab start Saturday at Class A Kannapolis as he battles back from shoulder surgery last fall, and he shouldn’t be too far away from providing a serious jolt to the starting staff. Not to mention, he’s a guy who as good a chance as anyone as grabbing one of those front-end spots, and with him in the rotation, things will look a tad more futuristic.

Same goes for Kopech, whose promotion figures to be coming at some point this summer. Given the hype and the expectations there, his arrival will obviously be a really big deal.

But regardless of the results either Rodon and Kopech put up in their first tastes of major league action in 2018, they’ll make the rotation into something that way more closely resembles the rotation of the future. There’ll be plenty of development left for the Hansens and the Ceases and the Dunnings in the minors. But a rotation featuring Rodon, Kopech, Giolito and Lopez looks a lot different than one featuring Shields, Santiago, Covey and Volstad.

Patience. It’s not much fun. But it’s necessary to build a contender.