The White Sox 2005 championship team was marked by tremendous starting pitching, a shutdown bullpen, timely hitting and finding every single possible way to win a game, even in bizarre fashion. For the last seven years the Sox have been trying to recreate that magical year. This weekend may be proof that they've found the formula.
Friday night looked like an easy win against a Mariners team that coming in had won eight in a row. Leading 7-2 in the ninth inning, and knowing the Detroit Tigers had already lost, the Sox were taking their new 2 ½ game lead to the bank. Robin Ventura brought in long reliever Phillip Humber, who had already thrown a perfect game against the Mariners this season, to get the final three easy outs and go home. Humber proceeded to give up a homerun to catcher Jesus Montero to cut the lead to 7-3. Ventura went to the bullpen again, and after three walks and two singles later, the Mariners had scored six runs in the top of the ninth inning to take an 8-7 lead.
It would have been a momentum crushing loss. It was the kind of loss that had the potential to change the momentum for the season. But Sox fans should know better by now. They weren't going to lose.
The Sox put the first two men on in the bottom of the ninth, and then got a game tying single by Kevin Youkilis. After Adam Dunn flied out deep to left, it was Paul Konerko's turn with Dewayne Wise on second base. Konerko hit the first pitch to deep right center where two Mariner outfielders converged in an attempt to make a game saving catch. And right fielder Eric Thames indeed made the catch as he slammed into center fielder Michael Saunders. They then both crashed into the wall, and when they did, the ball skyrocketed out of Thames glove into center field allowing Wise to score all the way from second. It was a bizarre play that has to be seen to believe.
"I had a pretty good beat on it,'' Thames said. ''I looked up and I saw (Saunders) running and I went for it and I caught it, but my elbow hit him and it was a pretty bad collision. I caught it, spun around and the ball (went flying).''
''From the lowest of lows to the highest of highs in about a two-minute span,'' White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. ''It was fun. Obviously it was a huge win, not only for the way that it happened because of everything that's going on with the pennant race and everything. It's a huge team win.
It was also just the beginning. After the Sox won Saturday night 5-4, they were going for the sweep on a rain soaked miserable Sunday in Chicago. The Mariners took a 3-2 lead into the seventh inning. The rain was coming down hard. So much so that when Mariners catcher John Jaso tried to catch a popup in the infield he barely could see as he looked up towards the sky. After umpire crew chief Jim Joyce saw this, he ordered the Sox grounds crew to dry up the infield. With Jordan Danks on second base representing the tying run for the Sox, Joyce didn't delay the game as the rain poured, he continued it. Of course.
Two pitches after Joyce could have delayed the game, Tyler Flowers hit a two-run homerun to give the Sox a 4-3 lead.
You know what happens next. Joyce stopped the game two batters later... with the Sox leading. The game was called two hours later giving the Sox the sweep.
The Sox keep on finding every way to win. Games they should win but almost give away, games they shouldn't win but do and games that Mother Nature tries to take away from them.
The Sox slogan this year is "Appreciate the Game," but it looks a lot like "Win, or Die Trying."