CHICAGO – In a bizarre finish, the Chicago White Sox tied the American League Championship Series at one game apiece with a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
The Angels saw things a lot differently, however. They believed the White Sox might have stolen the win.
Here’s what happened in a see-it-to-believe-it bottom of the ninth inning:
With two outs, Angels reliever Kelvim Escobar appeared to strike out A.J. Pierzynski and force extra innings.
Home-plate umpire Doug Eddings pumped his fist, indicating a strikeout.
As the Angels were running to the dugout, however, Pierzynski dropped his bat and sprinted to first, believing that the pitch had bounced and he should have been tagged by catcher Josh Paul to make the out official. A throw to first also would have made the out official.
“I didn’t hear him call me out, so I ran,” Pierzynski said.
After a lengthy debate between the umpires and Angels manager Mike Scioscia, Pierzynski was awarded first base.
Pinch-runner Pablo Ozuna entered the game, stole second, and scored the winning run on Joe Crede’s hit to the left-field wall.
Did Escobar’s pitch bounce?
Pierzynski might have been the only person in the stadium who believed it did.
Scioscia certainly didn’t think so. He had a long debate with umpire crew chief Jerry Crawford, but ultimately lost the argument – and the game.
The wild ending overshadowed a sensational pitching effort by Mark Buehrle, who went nine innings and did not walk a batter while throwing just 97 pitches.
Los Angeles starter Jarrod Washburn survived a shaky first inning and held the White Sox to an unearned run in 4 2/3 innings.
The pitching matchup featured a pair of left-handers who knew something about being in the spotlight.
Washburn started five times during the 2002 postseason, helping the Angels win the World Series.
Buehrle was the starting pitcher in this summer’s All-Star Game. He worked two scoreless innings and got the win.
While Buehrle won his start against Boston in Game 2 of the division series, Washburn was scratched from Game 4 against the New York Yankees because of a throat infection. He entered the night not having pitched in 11 days, and manager Mike Scioscia sensed he was still weak from the illness.
“He’s still a little green behind the gills, but he’s going to be OK,” Scioscia said before the game.
Washburn may have raised some doubts about his readiness to pitch in the first inning when he threw away leadoff man Scott Podsednik’s bouncer back to the mound.
Podsednik ended up on second and Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen quickly employed a small-ball approach. Tadahito Iguchi bunted Podsednik to third and Jermaine Dye got the run home on a groundout.
Angels third baseman Robb Quinlan tied the game at 1 with a solo home run in the fifth.
White Sox 2, Angels 1
SERIES TIED 1-1
Two outs when winning run scored. 1-ran for J.Molina in the 8th. 2-ran for Pierzynski in the 9th. E—VGuerrero (1), Paul (1), Washburn (1), Uribe (1). LOB—Los Angeles 4, Chicago 7. 2B—OCabrera (1), Rowand (1), Crede 2 (2). HR—Quinlan (1), off Buehrle. RBIs—Quinlan (1), Dye (1), Crede (2). SB—Ozuna (1). S—AKennedy, Iguchi. GIDP—VGuerrero, AKennedy. Runners left in scoring position—Los Angeles 3 (Figgins, OCabrera, GAnderson); Chicago 2 (Dye 2). Runners moved up—Figgins, Dye. DP—Los Angeles 1 (GAnderson and AKennedy); Chicago 2 (Buehrle, Uribe and Konerko), (Uribe, Iguchi and Konerko).
|KEscobar L, 0-1||2 2/3||3||1||0||0||5||39||0.00|
|Buehrle W, 1-0||9||5||1||1||0||4||99||1.00|
Inherited runners-scored—Donnelly 3-0. HBP—by Washburn (Iguchi), by Buehrle (BMolina). PB—Pierzynski. T—2:34. A—41,013 (40,615).