Chicago White Sox

Controversy surrounds White Sox win

Mark Buehrle pitched an absolute gem for the White Sox on Wednesday night, going 9 innings and giving up only 1 run. Unfortunately, that’s the last thing that anyone will remember about game 2 of the 2005 ALCS.Robb Quinlan gave the Angels their only run when, in the 5th inning, he hit a solo homerun to lead off.

Other than Quinlan’s hit, Buehrle was superb and gave up just 5 hits in the game, scattering a few singles and a long double for Orlando Cabrera in the 4th. He also had 4 strikeouts while striking out Quinlan twice.

But his 9 innings will be forgotten because of the controversy surrounding A.J. Pierzynski in the bottom of the 9th.

On a 3-2 count, Pierzynski swung and missed at a pitch. Simple…right? According to Doug Eddings, the home plate umpire, it was anything but.

The pitch from Kelvim Escobar was low but it appeared to have gone right into Angel catcher Josh Paul’s mitt. Paul stood up and rolled the ball to the mound for the end of the inning and his team began to jog back into their dugout.

But after taking a couple of steps away from the batter’s box, something possessed Pierzynski to run down to first base. That “thing” was the lack of verbal command from Eddings behind the plate.

“I didn’t hear him call me out, so I knew that I could run,” said Pierzynski.

But Josh Paul had a different take on the lack of speech from Doug Eddings.

“Customarily, if the ball is in the dirt, you hear: ‘No catch, no catch, no catch’ and I didn’t hear any of that,” Paul said. “It was strike three, the third out of the inning and I threw the ball back to the mound.”

Eddings defended himself when hearing Paul’s comments.

“I did not say ‘No catch,’ ” said Eddings, adding he felt the ball was trapped and was surprised Paul did not tag Pierzynski. “If you watch the play, you do watch me as I’m making the mechanic, I’m watching Josh Paul, and so I’m seeing what he’s going to do. I’m looking directly at him while I’m watching Josh Paul. That’s when Pierzynski ran to first base.”

If he had trapped the ball why not just tag the batter? A catcher won’t trap it and then roll it back to the mound if there is any doubt at all that he hasn’t caught the ball cleanly.

Josh Paul’s actions seemed completely normal and were an indication of a botched call on the part of Eddings.

Eddings extended his arm before closing his fist and making the “out” sign which led both teams, with the exception of Pierzynski, that the batter was out. The cameras had a shot of Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen hanging his head after his catcher swung and missed.

“I saw [Eddings] point to the guy and raise his hand, so he’s out,” Escobar said. “That’s what I saw.”

Mike Scioscia came out to argue the call but returned to the dugout several minutes later after his objections fell upon deaf ears and Pierzynski was allowed to remain at first base.

Pablo Ozuna came in to pinch run and promptly stole second.

Then with an 0-2 count, Joe Crede hit a rocket into the left field corner, scoring Ozuna and thus fueling the controversy.

The controversy in this game was similar to the game when the Angels knocked out the mighty Yankees on Monday night.

When Yankees rookie Robinson Cano swung and missed at a third strike, the ball got away from Bengie Molina. Molina threw down to first but Darin Erstad was not able to hang on to the ball. Cano appeared to be safe and the inning was going to continue. However, the home plate umpire ruled that Cano had been running inside the baseline and therefore interfered with the throw from Molina.

When looking replays of that call there is no doubt that the play was very close. But there is a 50/50 chance that other umpires would have called him safe. It’s just a matter of what the umpire in question thought he saw.

This is the same situation that Doug Eddings has been thrust into. The replay doesn’t show that the ball changed direction before entering Josh Paul’s mitt and his actions following that show that he believed he made the catch cleanly.

This argument will be talked about for years to come, especially if the White Sox end up winning this series. It’s sad to think that Chicago’s last chance at the championship was marred by a scandal to throw that series 86 years ago.

But another chance to be at the top of the baseball world has already been clouded by a call that we may never resolve. For team that has as much heart and soul as the Red Sox of 2004 and is run by one of baseball’s most colorful managers, it would be devastating to see their great season tarnished.

Buehrle’s performance set the White Sox up for a much easier weekend as they go into Anaheim for three straight games. While Anaheim used three of their relievers on Wednesday night, Chicago’s bullpen rested yet again. On Tuesday night the White Sox needed only two outs from their bullpen and those were provided by Neal Cotts.

Mike Scioscia’s bullpen has been straining somewhat in the last three nights as they have pitched their way through 15 full innings of work. With only Thursday to rest, the Angels will shuffle their pitching around to be ready for their weekend series. John Lackey will go against Jon Garland on Friday night in what should be an enjoyable pitching duel to watch.

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One reply on “Controversy surrounds White Sox win”

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