10/24/05 1:15 AM ET
This time, teammates rescue Jenks
Closer fumbles ninth-inning lead before Sox rally to win
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
One night after striking out three of the four batters he faced to earn the first postseason save of his career, Jenks suffered his first blown save. The big right-hander allowed two runs in the top of the ninth inning in Game 2 of the World Series on Sunday night as the Astros rallied to tie the score. If the White Sox had not ended up winning -- they did, 7-6, on a home run by Scott Podsednik in the bottom of the ninth -- Jenks would have received much of the blame.
The concern for Jenks wasn't about how close he was to going from beloved to loathed in Chicago but rather that the Sox picked up a win. And after the game that was the only thought on Jenks' mind.
"I'm just glad we won, that's the most important thing," he said.
A victory for the Sox, though, was in question after a rough outing for Jenks. Jeff Bagwell, got a leadoff hit to right to start the ninth inning. It was a significant hit to the confidence of Jenks as just the night before in Game 1, Bagwell was the key strikeout to end the Astros' scoring threat in the eighth inning. Jenks appeared to right the ship, when he used only three pitches to strike out the next batter, Jason Lane.
However, that was when the real trouble started for Jenks. Four straight balls to Chris Burke walked the tying run on base.
"He walked a guy, and that's usually what he doesn't do," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "You can't walk a guy in the ninth inning. They just feed off that."
The Astros did just that as Brad Ausmus grounded out to first, moving both runners into scoring position. Astros manager Phil Gardner then called on Jose Vizcaino to pinch-hit for shortstop Adam Everett. The result was a first-pitch single to left that drove in Bagwell, scoring one run easily. Left fielder Scott Podsednik's throw to home was just a bit off the mark and allowed Burke to slide his left hand under the tag of Pierzynski to score the second run and make it a tie game, 6-6.
"I made a good pitch to him," Jenks said. "He was brought in just to face me, the lefty on righty. I made a good pitch down and away with some sink. He just got enough of it to get it over that infield."
The two runs were the first allowed by the Sox bullpen in the postseason. Before Vizcaino's hit, Chicago relievers had combined to pitch 11 2/3 scoreless innings.
Despite what seemed to be a huge momentum swing in Houston's direction, there was a confidence level in the Sox that was displayed even before Podsednik's key hit. As Jenks walked off the mound to be replaced by Neal Cotts for the final out of the inning, Pierzysnki made a comment to Sox manager Ozzie Guillen not to worry because the team would come back.
"That's the attitude I like to hear," Guillen said. "When somebody fails, somebody else picks them up."
And that's exactly what Jenks expected to happen.
"Nothing gets this team down," Jenks said. "Somewhere there's a hero in the lineup every day and today it was Pods."
His hero title might have been taken away, but Jenks can thank his team for making sure that "goat" didn't take its place.
Kelly Thesier is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.