Months before “pulling an El Duque” was a thing, Orlando Hernandez was getting out of bases-loaded jams all over the place.
Hernandez etched his name into White Sox history — and into that statue that’s sitting outside Guaranteed Rate Field — with his relief work in Game 3 of the ALDS, coming on in a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation and getting three straight outs to preserve a one-run lead.
But he had some practice earlier in the season.
In the White Sox 3-1 win over the Twins on April 19, Hernandez faced not one but two jams with the bases loaded and less than two outs. And he escaped both of them.
Hernandez was stellar the first time he faced the Twins in 2005, giving up just one run and striking out five hitters in seven innings. Next time out didn’t go so hot, as he gave up six runs, four of them earned, on eight hits and four walks against the Indians.
This one was somewhere in between. He gave up 10 hits but no runs, thanks to getting out of a pair of unenviable jams.
In the second inning, the Twins led off with a double and a single. A steal of second and a hit batter loaded the bases with just one out. But Hernandez followed with a strikeout of Michael Cuddyer, and after falling behind Nick Punto, 3-1, he induced an inning-ending pop out.
Four innings later, the Twins strung together three consecutive one-out singles. Bases loaded, one out yet again. But Hernandez got Punto to pop out once more, and Shannon Stewart flew out as Hernandez pitched his way out of another doomsday scenario.
Neither overshadowed what was to come, Hernandez’s legendary performance on the playoff stage. But it’s not like he didn’t have practice in similar situations.
Earlier in #SoxRewind, we saw Jon Garland show his talents as an escape artist. But in 2005, no one compared to El Duque in that category.
— The eephus! This was the first El Duque start on #SoxRewind, so the first time we got to see him unleash the eephus. It didn’t work against Jacque Jones in the sixth. Jones ripped it into center for a base hit. But it sure was fun to watch Hernandez float that thing up there.
— As relayed by Hawk Harrelson during the broadcast, Hernandez giving up 10 hits in a scoreless outing was the first time that had happened for a White Sox pitcher in more than 20 years.
— Shingo time was running out. Luis Vizcaino and Dustin Hermanson kept the Twins off the board in a three-run game in the seventh and eighth innings, but on for the save in the ninth, Shingo Takatsu experienced the kind of early season trouble that got him yanked from the closer’s role. After getting the first out of the inning, he let the Twins score a run on back-to-back hits. Ozzie Guillen didn’t let Takatsu hang around, pulling him in favor of Damaso Marte, who retired the two hitters he faced to lock down the win. Takatsu’s final save with the White Sox came in early May, and he was released on Aug. 1.
— Torii Hunter was a defensive whiz in center field for the Twins, winning nine consecutive Gold Gloves, including one in 2005. If you forgot just how skilled he was out there, you got to see a couple reasons why he’s got such an impressive trophy case in this game. He used his hose to nab Scott Podsednik trying to score on a Carl Everett fly ball in the first inning, a terrific throw that helped keep this game scoreless for five and a half innings. He made a great leaping catch at the wall to prevent the White Sox from growing their lead in the sixth.
— Joe Crede extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a pair of hits, including a go-ahead double in the fifth inning. Crede’s streak ended up lasting 14 games. He hit .408/.442/.653 with eight extra-base hits and eight RBIs during that stretch.
— Brad Radke ended up getting knocked around the first time he faced off against the White Sox in 2005, giving up five earned runs. But for the better part of that outing, he kept the South Side offense quiet. Same thing in this one, where he ended up giving up three runs on 11 hits. But he hung around for eight innings — a complete-game effort in a loss — and logged a quality start. Radke had a 4.73 ERA in 36 career starts against the White Sox.
Since you been gone
While #SoxRewind is extensive, it doesn’t include all 162 regular-season contests, meaning we’re going to be skipping over some games. So what’d we miss since last time?
April 14, 2005: Paul Konerko hit a three-run homer, but the White Sox couldn’t overcome the pair of crooked numbers the Indians hung on Hernandez and Neal Cotts. A four-run bottom of the first and a three-run bottom of the sixth added up to trouble. White Sox lose, 8-6, fall to 6-3.
April 15, 2005: Jon Garland was good, allowing just two runs in his seven innings against the Mariners. The bullpen faltered a bit trying to close things out in the ninth, but six White Sox runs — including homers by Jermaine Dye and Juan Uribe — were enough. White Sox win, 6-4, improve to 7-3.
April 16, 2005: Mark Buehrle was outstanding again, turning in one of the most impressive performances he ever had: a career-high 12 strikeouts and nine innings of one-run ball against the Mariners — in 99 minutes. He threw more pitches, 106, then the number of minutes played. Amazing. Adam Hoge waxed poetic on this one. White Sox win, 2-1, improve to 8-3.
April 17, 2005: A pair of first-inning homers by his old team wasn’t a good sign for Freddy Garcia, but the two singles that accounted for three runs in a busy fifth were what doomed his squad this day. White Sox lose, 5-4, drop to 8-4.
April 18, 2005: Everett hit a pair of home runs off Kyle Lohse, including a game-winning shot that broke a 3-all tie in the sixth. Everett’s power made up for an ugly fifth inning from Jose Contreras that featured runs scoring on a balk and a wild pitch. White Sox win 5-4, improve to 9-4.
#SoxRewind rolls on Tuesday, when you can catch the April 20, 2005, game against the Tigers, starting at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. Big days (and big flies) for both Crede and Jermaine Dye.