10/23/05 12:52 AM ET
Crede backs Astros into a (hot) corner
Third baseman homers, makes three big defensive plays
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
"With one out, they were in a situation of just trying to put the ball in the air for a sacrifice fly, or just get a ground ball to get the run in. I was fortunate to get enough of the ball to make a play." Seventh inning, bases loaded, two outs: Craig Biggio plants a smash between the foul line and Crede, who backhands it and fires to first base to extinguish another Houston flame. "Crede has done that all year," White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "You stick Crede over there and he'll catch it. That's just Joe. He's very underrated as a player." Not in his own clubhouse. "Unbelievable," said Konerko, offering his one-word review of Crede's plays. ."He's the story of the game for me. Those plays at third ... I don't think anybody can appreciate them unless you're on field level. "Those are absolutely bullets that are getting hit down there. It's wet, coming off the grass. He's been making great plays all year, so it doesn't surprise me. In the World Series, you see the ball get hit hard and you have a bad feeling, but then he comes up big. "He makes a great throw across the diamond. Sometimes you don't see guys make good throws off that. He's made my job easy over there." A small town boy (Westphalia, Mo.) who enjoys, even prefers, anonymity, Crede had already pretty much blown his offensive cover with a string of late-season and postseason hits at the most critical situations. Now his glove prowess is also coming to light. His teammates yawn over plays that daze opponents and fans, because they've been watching them for years. Crede isn't sure he is ready to be "discovered." But if it benefits the White Sox, if it moves them closer to a World Series championship, he'll cope with it. "It's been an awesome ride," he said of a wave he has straddled for six weeks, "making this definitely one of the years I'll remember. "For me, it's always about going out and helping my team win. I try to get the hits when they count and when they mean the most for the team." All of his hits seem to have counted since the two homers on Sept. 20 that beat Cleveland in an extra-inning game and protected the White Sox shrinking American League Central lead, and their sanity. The spotlight has repeatedly found him ever since, and he has answered without fail. It's all that small-town blood in his veins. It runs cold. "You try to control your nerves," he said. "That's the biggest part of it, trying to calm yourself down -- don't try to do too much, just put good wood on the ball and hopefully you can do something positive with it." Hitting it into the teeth of a defense that doesn't have him at a corner is already a positive.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.