Leave it to Guillen to throw out the first punch line. The White Sox are his made-to-order team: unafraid and unconventional. Game 1 of the World Series was no different. The Wizards of Oz continued to play the kind of ball that had brought them to the Fall Classic--they did not walk a batter, they hit two timely home runs (each putting them in the lead), they played errorless and sometimes spectacular defense, and most typical of all, they barely won. The score was 5-3 in the 100th game decided by one or two runs, and the 65th such game won, for the team with the unofficial motto of Waste no runs.
"You just saw a Chicago baseball game," Guillen crowed when it was over.
The Houston Astros, playing the first World Series game in the team's 43-year history, did their darnedest to keep this one from becoming an Ozfest. They fell behind twice early, 1-0 (on a Jermaine Dye home run) and 3-1, but each time immediately rallied for ties against an otherwise game Jose Contreras.
The Astros lost a little of their swagger when Clemens walked into the clubhouse after the second inning and never returned. The righthander had strained his left hamstring in the second while starting to cover first base on a hit-and-run single by Rowand. Clemens, who had passed Christy Mathewson on the alltime World Series strikeout list, was replaced by rookie Wandy Rodriguez, who had thrown exactly one postseason inning.
Rodriguez pitched out of trouble like a man crossing a five-lane highway on foot. It was never pretty and always dangerous. But Rodriguez could not navigate through Joe Crede in the fourth. The third baseman walloped a home run to centerfield to give Chicago a 4-3 lead.
Crede would preserve that lead with twin diving, backhand stops at third base in the sixth and seventh innings, both times with an Astro at third. Houston got the tying run at least as far as second with fewer than two outs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, and never scored.
The last threat began when Willy Taveres doubled, whereupon Guillen went to his bullpen for the first time in 11 days. Lefthander Neil Cotts, the only reliever Guillen used in the ALCS, yielded a single to Lance Berkman that was stung so hard, Tavares had to stop at third. What happened next had never occurred in the World Series: three straight strikeouts with the tying run in scoring position after the seventh inning.
Cotts began the string by whiffing Morgan Ensberg and then Mike Lamb, who had homered earlier in the game off Contreras but was a .179 hitter in the rare instances when Astros manager Phil Garner allowed him to bat against lefthanders. Guillen then walked to the mound and, in the manner of a slapstick comic, held his palms open far out to each side in the universal symbol for a wide load. The bullpen door swung open--all the way open--and out walked 270-pound Bobby Jenks. Pitching for the first time in 11 days, Jenks threw nothing but fastballs between 98 and 100 mph to Jeff Bagwell. The Houston DH whiffed on the final one.
Chicago tacked on a run in the ninth for Jenks, who threw only strikes for the final three outs. When July began, Jenks, who was signed for $20,000 on a waiver claim after being released by the Los Angeles Angels, had never thrown in a major league game. Now here he was, only 108 days after his big league debut, getting a save in a World Series game. Only Todd Worrell of the 1985 Cardinals (52 days) ever made such a quick trip since the save was instituted in 1969. Surprising? Well, this is Chicago baseball.
GAME 2 at Chicago
WHITE SOX 7, ASTROS 6