Jon Garland was terrific in 2005.
He made the American League All-Star team and finished sixth in the AL Cy Young vote thanks to a team-high 18 wins, a 3.50 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 221 innings of work.
He picked up the first of those 18 wins in his first start of the season April 9 against the Twins with a pretty good Harry Houdini impression.
Much like most of his rotation mates did in their first outings of the season, Garland held the opposition at bay. But this wasn’t the same kind of cruise control that Mark Buehrle was on in the season opener. Garland gave up 10 hits and had traffic on the bases in nearly every one of his six innings. But only one swing of the bat accounted for all three Twins runs against him in the White Sox 8-5 win.
Garland repeatedly danced out of trouble. He stranded Nick Punto, who led off the bottom of the third with a double, thanks to a line-drive double play to Juan Uribe. In the fourth, Matt LeCroy’s one-out double went for naught with Garland getting back-to-back groundouts to escape.
The Twins got to him in the fifth inning, three runs scoring on Shannon Stewart’s home run. That blast tied the game, but the Twins had a chance to pounce all over Garland, only for him to make the perfect escape at the perfect time.
Minnesota went single, double to start the bottom of the sixth, putting two runners in scoring position with nobody out. Then Paul Konerko made a big stab on a line drive for the inning’s first out. Lew Ford’s infield single kept the runners where they were but loaded the bases with just one out.
Garland needed a double-play ball. “Make a pitch, Jon,” Darrin Jackson said while calling the game. Garland made a pitch, getting Michael Cuddyer to swing at the first one in the at-bat and ground into an enormously clutch inning-ending double play.
The 2005 team got sensational starting pitching from April through the end of October. And while when we think of great starting pitching 15 years later, we think of guys who go out and dominate games and strike out a dozen guys, getting the job done in any fashion ends with the same result.
Buckle up, #SoxRewind fans. Great starting pitching will be a theme.
— The Metrodome lives again. (Shudder.) There are so few old-school domes left in the majors that it’s easy to forget how awful this looked on TV. Well, maybe not that easy. The fact that it housed consistently good Twins teams that bedeviled the White Sox made South Side fans hate it so much more. But it’s just so aesthetically displeasing. Today, only the home ballparks of the Rays and kind of the Blue Jays create such upsetting visuals while watching a baseball game on TV. But the nasty carpet-style turf and fan-less wall of baggies in right field made the Metrodome one of the worst. Yuck.
— And how about the open dugouts with no fencing in front? Jacque Jones let his bat fly on a swing against Garland in the second inning, and it flew into the White Sox dugout, almost hitting Don Cooper on the bench. Juan Uribe let his bat go right toward the Twins dugout in the seventh inning. Cover up those dugouts, guy.
— And speaking of Jones, what a throw he made from right field in the top of the third, almost nabbing Tadahito Iguchi at third base on the sacrifice fly that scored the White Sox third run. Michael Cuddyer couldn’t quite get the tag down in time on Iguchi, but Jones deserves some applause for a hell of a throw.
— Come on, Timo! Hawk Harrelson’s famous screaming call came a year earlier, but Timo Perez homered in this game against the Twins, the tie-breaking bomb in the top of the seventh. It was one of just two homers he hit all season, making Ozzie Guillen look like a genius for batting him fifth while giving Jermaine Dye a breather. After getting into 103 games the season prior, Perez saw action in only 76 contests during the championship season but still played his part, as evidenced by his absolutely crushed dinger in the Metrodome.
— Boy, Pods could pedal. Acquired to bring some more speed to this White Sox lineup, Scott Podsednik sure brought that. A year after stealing a jaw-dropping 70 bases with the Milwaukee Brewers, he swiped another 59 in his first season on the South Side. He didn’t steal any in this game but still put that speed to good use. In the seventh inning, the Twins tried to pick him off first base. It didn’t work, an errant throw allowed Podsednik to get all the way to third, and he motored the remaining 90 feet home on a passed ball a few pitches later. His RBI fielder’s choice that got him on base in the first base accounted for another one of the seventh inning’s four White Sox runs. Just more of that small ball.
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 6, 2005: The White Sox trailed 3-0 heading to the bottom of the ninth but scored four runs off Indians closer Bob Wickman. Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye hit back-to-back homers to tie the game, and Juan Uribe drove in the game-winning run with a sacrifice fly. Mercy! White Sox win, 4-3, improve to 2-0.
April 7, 2005: The South Siders raced out to a 5-0 lead, but the Indians chipped away and then scored three runs in the ninth inning on three solo homers off Shingo Takatsu to force extras. They pummeled Luis Vizcaino for six runs in the top of the 11th. White Sox lose, 11-5, fall to 2-1.
April 8, 2005: In the first game of the season against the rival Twins, Orlando Hernandez threw seven innings of one-run ball, and Dustin Hermanson tossed two scoreless frames in relief. Konerko homered in the sixth to break a 1-all tie, and Aaron Rowand hit his first homer of the season two batters later. White Sox win, 5-1, improve to 3-1.
#SoxRewind rolls on Saturday, when you can catch the April 11, 2005, game against the Indians, starting at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. Another starting-pitching gem, this one from Freddy Garcia.