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White Sox Caught With Few Moves

Guillen cites a failure to execute in loss, but Angels' success at small game and defense are also factors.

October 12, 2005|Tim Brown | Times Staff Writer

CHICAGO — Ozzie Guillen had tried to explain that his Chicago White Sox weren't all about small ball, the little game the American League forgot.

The point was made when they slugged with the Boston Red Sox in the division series, and made again Tuesday night against the Angels, when the White Sox failed at nearly every attempt to pursue the finer points of run production.

In their 3-2 loss to the Angels in the opening game of the American League championship series, the White Sox twice botched late-inning sacrifice bunts that would have moved runners to second base with one out.

They also were thrown out attempting to steal twice, the second time in the seventh inning, when catcher A.J. Pierzynski saw a hit-and-run sign that no one admitted to giving.

Meanwhile, the Angels were playing their reputed small game, a single home run accounting for one run, infield outs accounting for the other two, pitching and defense accounting for 27 outs that left the White Sox, whose record in one-run games (35-19) was the best in baseball, wanting for at least one more run.

In a game played in the few inches separating the thick and the thin of the bat, the Angels stole two bases, sacrificed successfully in the midst of their two-run third inning, and pitched out when White Sox speedster Scott Podsednik broke for second with one out in the fifth inning.

They played the final five innings with that 3-2 lead, in front of a crowd at U.S. Cellular Field dulled by the scarcity of big hits, and made almost every big play. Almost, because third baseman Chone Figgins dropped a one-hopper to start the ninth inning that allowed Carl Everett to reach base, less dramatic because one batter later Figgins charged Aaron Rowand's bunt attempt and threw out pinch-runner Pablo Ozuna at second base.

"We have a team that executes all the time and that's our game," Guillen said.

Indeed, the White Sox led the league in sacrifice bunts, with 53.

"We failed today at moving guys over," Guillen said. "You know, we don't do the job ... and it's hard for us to win. We don't have the type of team that's going to score 20 runs."

Podsednik, who was caught stealing in the fifth inning and struck out after fouling off two bunt tries with Juan Uribe at first base in the eighth inning, refused to speak to reporters. Asked about the general lack of execution, Rowand, who bunted into the fielder's choice against Francisco Rodriguez in the ninth, responded, "What do you mean, 'Lack of execution?' "

Pressed a bit, Rowand explained, "I got down a good bunt, but [Figgins] was charging. There's not much you can do about that. It was a good defensive play on their part. Next time, I'll try to go to first base there."

In the seventh inning, Pierzynski was at first base with one out. On a one-strike pitch to Joe Crede, he went for second. Crede took strike two. Angel catcher Bengie Molina threw out Pierzynski, who hasn't stolen a base since 2003. And the chance for another rally was done.

"He only got one try all year," Guillen said. "I think he was confused. I think he must have missed a sign, [or] he was running on his own."

Pierzynski said he thought he saw a hit-and-run sign, then checked with first base coach Tim Raines, who was unsure as well. So, he ran.

"If I missed a sign, I missed it," Pierzynski said.

It was not, perhaps, their usual game. And although not everyone was as cavalier as Pierzynski was, there was a sense among the White Sox that the subtleties of that game would come soon enough.

"We know we didn't execute some things tonight," first baseman Paul Konerko said. "It wasn't our best game.

"We have to do that. At the same time, it wouldn't be bad if we hit some doubles and drove in some runs."

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