Hey, growing up in Chicago, I have a dog in this race. Given that, and given the fact that the Chicago White Sox were once the St. Paul Saints, I got a double dog in this race! GO WHITEYS!
CHICAGO -- The White Sox waited 46 years and five days to return to the World Series.
Their 5-3 victory over the Astros before 41,206 fans in baseball heaven for Game 1 of the Fall Classic on Saturday night at U.S. Cellular Field certainly was worth the time off. It also left the White Sox with three victories to pick up in the next six games in order to win their first championship since 1917.
Saturday's win certainly wasn't without a number of tense moments for the South Siders. A string of four straight complete games, all thrown in the American League Championship Series, came to a close for the White Sox. Jose Contreras, who also started Game 1 of the Division Series and the ALCS, worked seven-plus innings, allowing three runs on six hits without walking a batter. But he exited in the eighth after Willy Taveras' second leadoff double of the game.
Neal Cotts made the first White Sox relief appearance since Game 1 of the ALCS and promptly yielded a ground single to left to Lance Berkman, putting runners on first and third with nobody out. The young left-hander then fell behind two balls and one strike on cleanup hitter Morgan Ensberg. But Cotts battled back to strike out Ensberg on a high fastball and did the same to left-hander Mike Lamb.
Bobby Jenks and his 100-mph fastball came into face Jeff Bagwell, who had been hit by a pitch twice earlier by Contreras. But the rookie got the best of the veteran, striking him out on five pitches with two runners in scoring position.
Joe Crede continued his postseason heroics in the opener, both with the bat and the glove. With the game tied at 3 in the fourth, Crede hit a one-out home run to left-center off reliever Wandy Rodriguez to provide the margin of victory. It was Crede's third postseason home run.
Crede was facing Rodriguez because Roger Clemens, Houston's Game 1 starter, exited after two innings with a strained left hamstring. The White Sox touched up the pitching legend for three runs on four hits, including Jermaine Dye's first-inning, opposite-field home run. It was the first White Sox home run in World Series competition since Ted Kluszewski's three-run shot in the fourth inning on Oct. 8, 1959.