You might have noticed. There are no White Sox losses as part of #SoxRewind.
Every day brings a new joy — or an old joy, rather — for White Sox fans, as they never have to experience the frustration that is guaranteed to accompany even the most successful seasons. And 2005 was obviously the most successful season in club history, ending with a World Series championship.
But no matter what you see from the uninterrupted parade of victories on your TVs, it wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops that year. I’m talking about August, the only sub-.500 month of the season for the White Sox on their way to 99 regular-season wins. The South Siders went 12-16 on the month, watching their gigantic lead in the AL Central standings cut in half.
After the Aug. 1 win in Baltimore, which completed a four-game sweep of the Orioles, the White Sox owned a 15-game advantage in the division race, their biggest lead of the season. By August’s end, that lead was down to seven games. And while September started with a seven-game winning streak, the red-hot Indians whittled that gap down to a game and a half by Sept. 24.
Once cruising to a division title, the White Sox needed some final-week wins to hold off the Indians and make the postseason.
It was August’s fault.
After completing that aforementioned sweep of the Orioles, the White Sox returned home and dropped the first two contests in a three-game set with the Blue Jays. Before winning Game 3 of that series, closer Dustin Hermanson had this to say:
“We’re just trying to win every day. We’re not in the playoffs yet. I’ve seen crazy things happen.
“We don’t want to be the biggest blunderers on Earth.”
The White Sox never gave up first place, preventing Hermanson’s warning from coming true. But the season’s final two months weren’t always pretty, especially August. After taking the next two series from the Mariners and Yankees, the White Sox lost seven in a row to the Red Sox, Twins and Yankees. Then after straightening out with five wins in their next six games, they lost four of five to end the month.
There were some actual blunders in this Aug. 4 game against the Blue Jays. A Joe Crede throwing error led to three runs in the fourth inning. Carl Everett was picked off first base to end a bases-loaded threat. White Sox relievers walked a trio of Blue Jays hitters in the seventh, including two from Damaso Marte with two outs. Scott Podsednik was caught stealing to end the seventh. And a four-run first inning should rarely require a tie-breaking homer in the bottom of the eighth to pull out a win and avoid a sweep.
But unsurprisingly, starting pitching was the key. The White Sox had one of baseball’s best starting staffs all season long, and that group put the team on its shoulders once the playoffs got underway. Quite simply, the White Sox won the World Series because of their starting pitching.
But it wasn’t so sterling coming out of the All-Star break. Jose Contreras, Freddy Garcia, Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland and Orlando Hernandez combined for a 4.56 ERA in the team’s first 20 games out of the break, compared to the 3.62 ERA the pitching staff as a whole had in the first half of the season.
Contreras entered his Aug. 4 start with a 5.92 second-half ERA. He didn’t give up any earned runs in this game, but he walked four and lasted just five innings.
Things obviously worked out just fine for both the starting rotation and the White Sox. But the 2005 season, for its championship finish, had an undoubtedly rocky stretch that led to a much tighter division race than anyone could have predicted when August started.
Just goes to show, there’s a thin line between world champions and “the biggest blunderers on Earth.”
— The White Sox jumped all over Blue Jays starter Dustin McGowan for four runs in the first inning, three of them scoring on Aaron Rowand’s home run.
It was enough of a cushion until the top of the eighth, when Russ Adams — who tripled off Contreras earlier in the game and homered twice two nights earlier — doubled in the tying run in the top of the eighth.
— Fortunately for the White Sox, Iguchi untied the game nearly as quickly as it had been tied, hitting a clutch homer off Justin Speier to lead off the bottom of the inning.
— The game-winning homer was obviously Iguchi’s finest moment of the afternoon. But he also made a stellar defensive play to steal a hit away from Vernon Wells. Of course, had replay review been around in 2005, Wells would have been safe. No matter. Still a cool highlight.
Since you been gone
Aug. 2, 2005: The Blue Jays jumped on Jon Garland with a five-run second inning. Future White Sox infielder Orlando Hudson homered, and Adams homered twice. White Sox lose, 7-3, fall to 69-36.
Aug. 3, 2005: Another early crooked number did the White Sox in, with Orlando Hernandez tagged for four runs in the first inning. White Sox lose, 4-3, fall to 69-37.
#SoxRewind rolls on Saturday, when you can catch the Aug. 6, 2005, game against the Mariners, starting at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. Buehrle is great again, and a Paul Konerko homer puts the White Sox in front early.