10/26/05 3:52 AM ET
Blum homer gives White Sox 3-0 lead
Long ball in the 14th helps end longest World Series game
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
Just ask the 2005 White Sox.
From the first day of the season to the last out of Tuesday's 7-5 victory in 14 innings over Houston during Game 3 of the World Series at Minute Maid Park, the South Siders have scraped, clawed and battled for every accolade and most victories they have earned. So, the team can be excused if it collectively refuses to start reflecting on its place in baseball history, despite sitting one win away from the franchise's first World Series title since 1917.
Players aren't concerned that the 21 previous teams who held a 3-0 lead in the World Series went on to win the championship. It's all about Wednesday's contest for the White Sox after Tuesday's 5 hour, 41 minute record-breaking affair.
"You can't think about it because we still have to find a way to win one more game," said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who capped off a five-run fifth inning against Houston starter Roy Oswalt with a two-run double. Of course, the play was so far removed from the final inning that it seemed like part of the regular season.
"If we find a way to win, then we will have plenty of time to think about what a title means to this city and the franchise," Pierzynski added. "The way we look at it is we have four chances to win one more game."
A number of postgame conversations Wednesday morning drifted back to the American League Championship Series of 2004, when the Red Sox were down three games to the Yankees, with two games in Boston and two in New York. Boston came back to win the title.
But with all due respect to the Astros, they don't have the firepower of last year's Red Sox. And the White Sox are clearly a stronger team than the Yankees.
In fact, the White Sox have a 10-1 record in the postseason. If they win Wednesday and complete the World Series sweep, the South Siders would match the 1999 Yankees' 11-1 run as the second-best playoff ledger in baseball history. The 1976 Reds, a team that happens to be a favorite of White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, because of fellow Venezuelan Davey Concepcion's role in the title, finished the playoffs with a perfect 7-0 ledger.
Tuesday marked the White Sox seventh straight postseason victory and the seventh straight for the American League in the World Series -- all over National League Central opponents. Guillen's charges also have won 15 of their last 16 overall, dating back to the final five games of the regular season.
"I couldn't tell you what our record was, aside from that fact that we have lost only one game in the postseason," said White Sox reliever Dustin Hermanson, who pitched for the first time since Sept. 30 and gave up a game-tying double to Jason Lane in the eighth inning. That hit was the only one allowed by eight White Sox relievers over seven innings, although this group did walk 10 and hit one batter.
"This team is so hungry, we aren't going to get excited until it's over," Hermanson continued. "Until we get that final out of the final victory, you are going to see nothing but warriors in here."
Geoff Blum was the ultimate warrior on Tuesday, hitting the game-winning home run off reliever Ezequiel Astacio in the 14th. Astacio was one of a World Series record 17 pitchers used by both teams.
The switch-hitting Blum recorded just his second at-bat of the postseason, pulling the ball down the right-field line for the momentous blast. The long ball had a slight bit or irony attached, in that Blum might have put an end to the World Series dreams of his former team.
"It means the world right now, even more if we go in and close this out [Wednesday]," the affable Blum said. "It's the stuff dreams are made of. I've had about 100 of these at-bats in my backyard with my younger brother."
"He's not a 40-home run hitter, but he's a good hitter," added Orlando Hernandez, who pitched out of a one-out, runner on third jam in the ninth with two strikeouts, but left in the 10th because of neck spasms. "I'm never surprised by anything in this game."
El Duque wasn't even surprised by the final out of Tuesday's victory being recorded by Mark Buehrle, who became the first pitcher in World Series history to start and earn a save in consecutive games. Buehrle replaced Damaso Marte in the 14th, with the White Sox leading by two runs, and runners on first and third because of Juan Uribe's two-out error on Brad Ausmus' routine grounder to shortstop.
Buehrle induced Adam Everett's popup to Uribe to end the game, moving the White Sox one step closer to their most historic celebration of the four during the postseason. With that prize in mind, Tuesday's victory didn't seem quite as taxing.
The franchise already has waited 88 years for a World Series title. So, what does waiting close to six hours for a victory even amount to in that equation?
"Some of the things from tonight's game make you think it's your year," White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko said. "We just have to go out and play our game and get it done [Wednesday]. There's not much more to say."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.