Generally, while the temperatures take their time to rise across the American League Central, the pitchers are said to have the advantage.
So perhaps it should be no surprise that at least one hitter on the 2005 White Sox got off to a bit of a slow start before eventually being named the World Series MVP.
Jermaine Dye was one of four new starting position players for the White Sox as they turned the page from 2004 to 2005, but he was no stranger to the AL Central. Though he arrived on the South Side after three and a half seasons with the Oakland Athletics, he spent the four and a half years before that with the Kansas City Royals.
In this lineup, he didn’t need to stand out as one of the most dangerous bats in the league, though by the time the White Sox were hoisting the trophy at the end of October, that’s what he’d become. In 2006, he was even better and finished fifth in the AL MVP vote.
But things didn’t start so hot for Dye. In April, he slashed a nasty .175/.205/.313.
The game against the Detroit Tigers on April 20, our latest edition of #SoxRewind, was an outlier, with Dye besting his RBI total to that point (three) in a single evening. He drove in four runs with a two-run homer in the first inning and a two-run single in the fifth inning.
The 9-1 White Sox romp was perhaps more notable for another sterling performance from Jon Garland, who tossed eight one-run innings. But it had to be a welcome reprieve for Dye, who was still settling into his new digs in the middle of the White Sox lineup.
Things obviously improved dramatically for Dye once the calendar turned to May, and he slashed an eye-popping .292/.355/.548 with 28 home runs in the other five months of the regular season. He hit .311/.415/.444 during the postseason. Come 2006, he slashed .315/.385/.622 with a career-high 44 home runs and 120 RBIs.
It’s safe to say Dye found his footing.
But for White Sox fans getting their first exposure to Dye in the home dugout, as opposed to him suiting up for the division-rival Royals, a big night like the one he had April 20 was more an exception than the rule in that early stage. Even if it was a sign of what was to come.
— Base-running gaffes hardly matter when your team wins by eight runs, but Dye made a pair of them in this game, twice getting caught in a rundown between first and second. He was picked off of first base to end the third inning. And after singling in a pair of runs in the fifth, he was again trapped between first and second, caught, thankfully for the White Sox, after those two runs had crossed home plate.
— As mentioned, Garland was again fantastic, following up his seven innings of two-run ball against the Seattle Mariners by holding these Tigers to just one run in eight innings. He ended up going at least eight innings seven times in 2005, including a trio of complete-game shutouts. The White Sox won the World Series because of their starting pitching, and nights like this one showed just how dominant it was.
— Joe Crede joined Dye in having a big night, driving in three runs of his own and extending his hit streak to 11 games. Crede homered in the sixth inning, capitalizing when gifted an extra swing by Tigers shortstop Carlos Guillen. Guillen tracked a pop up into foul territory but completely whiffed on the attempt. “Make him pay, Joe,” Hawk Harrelson said. That’s exactly what happened. Crede hit the next pitch for a three-run homer.
— Speaking of The Hawkeroo, he took the viewers on an emotional roller-coaster ride in the fifth inning. With one out and Tadahito Iguchi on first base, Paul Konerko drove a ball to deep right field, not far out of the reach of the right fielder. Hawk cheered the thing on the whole time, but his mood changed when the ball bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double. “Get down! Get down! Get down! It will! Dagummit!” Did I mention the White Sox were up three at the time?
— Scott Podsednik, another one of those new position players, kept making his presence felt by making things happen at the top of the order. He scored the game’s first run after stealing third base and coming home on a wild pitch. Sure, he would have scored anyway on Dye’s ensuing home run. But seeing how much difference that elite speed element made on a nightly basis makes you long for more of it in today’s game.
#SoxRewind rolls on Wednesday, when you can catch the April 23, 2005, game against the Royals, starting at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. Some phenomenal work by the White Sox bullpen and extra-inning heroics from Aaron Rowand.