Notes: Knowing when to run
Runners have to understand pitchers and situations
CHICAGO -- Tim Raines didn't pick up 808 career stolen bases over 23 seasons without picking up a piece of information or two about how to be successful on the base paths.
And after watching both Scott Podsednik and A.J. Pierzynski, the two opposite ends of the White Sox speed spectrum, get thrown out on attempted steals on Tuesday, the White Sox baserunning coach made an important observation Wednesday in regard to the team's opportunity to run. It's not so much catcher Bengie Molina and his strong and accurate arm that the White Sox have to worry about, but the Angels' pitchers.
Raines pointed out that Molina is held in the same high esteem as Detroit's Ivan Rodriguez, long considered the best throwing catcher in all of baseball. But it was Paul Byrd's quick delivery to home plate that truly aided Molina's cause Tuesday.
"It can be anybody back there, it doesn't really matter," Raines said. "It's the pitchers. Eighty percent of the time, you are stealing off the pitcher.
"Sometimes, you have to kind of shut it down. You've got a pitcher out there who is pretty quick to the plate, and it's almost impossible to steal. You have to pick your shots."
Raines pointed out that a pitcher who comes to the plate in 1.3 or 1.4 seconds gives an opposing player the chance to run. A pitcher who speeds up his delivery to 1.1 or 1.2 seconds makes stealing bases a virtual impossibility with a strong catcher behind the plate.
Of course, adjustments are made depending on the baserunner. Pitchers have been slide-stepping and quick pitching with Podsednik on first or second all season, but Raines still believes that the White Sox leadoff man can swipe any base with a good jump.
That is, unless the situation provides a perfect pitchout, a quick pitch to the plate and a perfect throw, as Podsednik encountered in the fifth Tuesday.
"Speedy Gonzalez won't make that," said Raines with a laugh.
As for Pierzynski's seventh-inning stolen base, it was a case of the slow-footed catcher seeing a hit-and-run call that didn't exist. Pierzynski got a good jump but couldn't finish the moment.
If the White Sox are picking their spots to run, Pierzynski certainly won't be a choice.
Managerial magnificence: From the beginning of the 2005 season, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has talked about a short list of managers in the American League who hold his highest respect. That group includes the Yankees' Joe Torre, Minnesota's Ron Gardenhire and Mike Scioscia, his managerial counterpart in the American League Championship Series.
Apparently, Scioscia holds Guillen in the same high regard. The two hugged after the team introductions Tuesday night, with Scioscia congratulating Guillen on the job he did this year, and then exchanged pleasantries again prior to Wednesday's game.
Guillen even mentioned that Scioscia offered words of encouragement as the two passed for Tuesday's postgame interview sessions at U.S. Cellular.
"When I was walking out of the interview room, he stopped me and said, 'Go get them tomorrow,' " said Guillen in slightly shocked tones. "I'm the opposite. I'm like, 'We are going to beat you tomorrow.' You don't see too many people with that attitude when they are managing.
"Mike has the respect from everyone because he doesn't take [garbage] from anyone. He respects the game and he's one of my favorite guys. It's not just because he's here."
Scioscia praised Guillen's demeanor, as well as the way his team comes prepared.
"Ozzie is very effervescent; that is his personality," Scioscia said. "It doesn't matter what the situation is, that is the way he's going to be. His teams play the game right; his teams play hard and they're aggressive."
Crede's crew: With one swing of the bat in the third inning Tuesday night, Joe Crede made postseason franchise history. His home run made him the second White Sox third baseman to go deep in the playoffs, joining Robin Ventura, who hit a two-run shot off Toronto's Duane Ward during Game 5 of the ALCS at Skydome.
But the blast to left-center held even greater personal meaning for Crede.
"It's the first game my newest daughter got to see, so I did it for her," said Crede with a broad smile.
Lucy Renee Crede, born on Sept. 27 while the White Sox were in Detroit, joined her mother, Lisa, and sister, Anna, for Tuesday's contest at U.S. Cellular Field.
Hold that bunt: Jermaine Dye's bunt leading off the sixth against Byrd provided more than a few stunned looks, especially with the White Sox trailing by one run. Dye popped the ball back to Byrd on the first pitch, in what would turn into a five-pitch inning.
Dye said after Tuesday's loss that he simply was trying to get something started for his team's slumbering offense. Guillen said Wednesday that he understood the idea, but he would rather see his third hitter swing away.
"There's one thing about that bunt, just get it done, be happy about it," Guillen said. "If you're out, you don't do it again.
"And then he tried to change something that we did all season, and he talked to me about doing it again, and I see where he comes from, why he wanted to do it. But like I said, he failed and it looked good, but that's my third hitter. We've got to play our game."
A stay of execution: Guillen was very succinct and direct when asked Wednesday what his team learned from Tuesday's 3-2 loss in the ALCS opener. Actually, it wasn't so much a lesson learned as it was a restatement of the obvious.
"We have to execute to win. That's our game all year long," Guillen said. "All year long, we play the same way. They executed and we don't.
"They pitched good and played pretty good defense, and had some clutch hitting. But we didn't execute when we had to. It always comes back to kill you in the ninth."
Around the horn: Bill Melton, a member of the White Sox Team of the Century and a studio contributor to Comcast Sports Net broadcasts, underwent successful hip surgery Tuesday and is resting at home. Melton was the 1971 American League home run champion. ... Guillen mentioned he has no control on whether his players take part in baseball's upcoming World Cup. His only concern was the injury factor after a long 2005 season. ... Four of the last five American League champions have lost Game 1 of the ALCS. They would be the Yankees in 2000, the Angels in 2002, the Yankees again in 2003 and the Red Sox last season. ... Barack Obama, the junior senator from Illinois, threw out the first pitch before Game 2.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.