White Sox rally for 2-0 lead
Iguchi caps five-run comeback with three-run blast
CHICAGO -- The question brought a smile to the face of Jermaine Dye before it was even completed.
But it wasn't a smile of happiness, joy or even amusement. It was more the sort of smile that takes the place of a cringe or a scowl, basically because the situation dictates it.
Dye had just been asked about the Oakland team he played for in 2003, a squad that won the first two games of a Division Series against Boston, only to see the Red Sox rally to advance in five games. With that past experience in mind, Dye was questioned as to how his current team in Chicago can manage to avoid suffering the exact same fate.
Even after Wednesday's 5-4 victory for the White Sox, an edge-of-your-seat, roller-coaster ride that gave the South Siders a 2-0 edge in the best-of-five playoff series, the question made perfect sense. And Dye had a short but direct response.
"Prepare like we did in these first two games," said Dye, who finished 1-for-4 Wednesday night. "Don't put any extra pressure on ourselves to try to do too much."
That explanation seems easier said than done, especially with the rabid fans of Fenway Park ready to get behind their team on Friday. But with the confidence and poise shown by the White Sox during these first two victories, Friday simply might be the culmination of the first step of something far greater for this team in the postseason.
On Tuesday, the 14-2 victory was all about the offense and Jose Contreras. Wednesday's plot line centered on a big inning, gritty efforts on the mound from Mark Buehrle and rookie closer Bobby Jenks and a big mistake from a Boston second baseman considered by many in the White Sox clubhouse to be a close friend.
David Wells allowed two hits over the first four innings, and the Red Sox scored two in the first and two in the third off Buehrle for a 4-0 lead. Aaron Rowand's double and Joe Crede's single quickly cut the lead in half with one out in the fifth, setting the table for the game-changing, and possible series-altering play. With Crede on first, Juan Uribe hit a ground ball to Graffanino that would have at least been the second out of the inning -- if not an inning-ending double play. But the ball rolled through Graffanino's legs and into right field, sending Crede around to third.
Uribe knew of the double-play possibility as soon as he hit the ball, breaking quickly down the line to force the action. Graffanino rushed the play, setting up the big inning, although a couple of White Sox players and their manager said the spin on the ball made it a much tougher play than it appeared.
"I have been there before, and I know how it feels," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, a slick-fielding shortstop during his playing days. "It was a big break for us, but it was not an easy play for him."
ALDS Comeback Wins
|Three teams have come back from a four-run deficit in American League Division Series history:|
|2005||CWS 5, BOS 4||White Sox lead, 2-0.|
|2004||NYY 6, MIN 5 (11)||Yankees won, 3-1.|
|1997||NYY 8, CLE 6||Indians won, 3-2.|
|Division Series play started in 1995|
On a 1-0 curve from Wells, Iguchi launched a long home run to left for a 5-4 White Sox advantage and the completion of a stunning five-run uprising. The blast earned the first curtain call of Iguchi's career.
"When [Graffanino] made the error, I liked it," Uribe said. "When Iguchi hit the home run, I liked it more."
"I can't really put a rank on it," added Iguchi, through translator Ryan McGuire, of joining Hideki Matsui as the second Japanese player to homer in a postseason game. "But the fact that I was able to hit this home run my first year playing, I'm very happy."
The play also earned sympathy from the White Sox clubhouse for Graffanino, who played on the 2000 playoff team in Chicago.
"It seems like plays like that always happen to the good guys," said White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko of his good friend. "I'd take Tony on my team every game of the year. The guy is a gamer and you feel for him. You don't want to see that happen."
Although he wasn't at his best, Buehrle deserves credit for pitching seven solid innings. After spotting Boston their four early runs, the left-hander settled down to allow just two harmless singles over his final four innings.
Jenks pitched the final two innings in his first playoff appearance, with Guillen stating that he wanted his best reliever to face the best Boston hitters. Trot Nixon pulled a potential game-tying home run just foul down the right-field line in the eighth before walking, while Manny Ramirez lined out hard to center field.When Edgar Renteria grounded out to Uribe with Graffanino on second to end the game, Jenks pounded his chest and catcher A.J. Pierzynski pumped his fist. But this series is not quite over yet.
Not against a Boston team that came back from a 3-0 deficit to the Yankees during last year's ALCS and is 8-1 in elimination games over the last two years. The Red Sox might have the comeback, but the White Sox have something to prove.
"They are the defending champs and they won't go away easy. They aren't going to quit," Pierzynski said. "They will bring everything they have the next three games. We just have to find a way to win one more game, that's the bottom line."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.