10/05/08 11:21 PM ET
Wise catalyst in White Sox Game 3 win
Shows key awareness on basepaths, strokes two-run double
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
He hadn't even done anything yet except dive back into first. Yet his afternoon might not have been nearly as big without it.
He ended up doing plenty to ignite the White Sox offense in this American League Division Series. He stole a base to set up the tying run. He hit the opposite-field double to build Chicago's cushion. Yet it started with a simple step back towards the bag that helped him avoid what could've been a crippling double play.
It was an overlooked play, but it was potentially critical in the momentum of the game. He was on first base after his leadoff walk in the third when Juan Uribe hit a sharp liner behind him. First baseman Carlos Pena was in front of Wise when he snagged the ball, starting a mad scramble to see who could get back to the bag first.
Wise's quick, initial read saved him.
"I wasn't stealing [second] base on that pitch anyway, so I just got my lead," Wise said. "All of a sudden, there's the ball. Even Carlos Pena said himself that was a great lead, because most guys would probably get doubled off right there.
"When I scrambled and dove back into first, I looked back into the Rays bench and I was like, 'Wow.' I saw a couple guys laughing that I had played against over the years."
What Wise did the rest of the game left him with the last laugh.
After Orlando Cabrera struck out for the second out, Rays starter Matt Garza put A.J. Pierzynski in an 0-2 count with back-to-back foul balls. However, he was not paying particular attention to Wise, who decided to take a chance to try to take second on his own. Garza's pitch went high, but Wise slid in safely to put the potential tying run in scoring position.
"I'm on my own," Wise of the decision to steal. "I knew Garza doesn't throw to first much. Actually, he's pretty quick to the plate. I just [decided] to get a good jump to try to get to second base, and that's what I did."
Pierzynski followed with a ground ball through the middle to send Wise home and tie the game.
An inning later, Wise was on the other end of Chicago's game-turning rally. Alexei Ramirez pulled the White Sox ahead with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly, leaving two runners still on with one out for Wise as Garza tried to recover.
Garza started off Wise with a tailing fastball. Wise went with it, all the way out of the strike zone.
"I kind of got on the plate," Wise said, "because every time runners get in scoring position, pitchers always throw me away. It was a good pitch, a couple pitches off the plate, and I was just able to get the bat head to it and get the double to left."
The liner went along the left-field line, sending Carl Crawford into the corner to retrieve it. It was another clutch hit for Wise, whose big home run in the series opener had been the biggest hit for the White Sox at Tropicana Field before the Rays stormed back to take command of the series.
"The first two games of the series, we just never came up with the big hit with runners in scoring position," Wise said. "Today we did that, and that's something we're gonna have to do again [Monday in Game 4]."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.