The 2005 season started for the White Sox with a 1-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians at home in a spiffy one hour and 51 minutes (thank you, Mark Buehrle) in front of 38,141 fans. None of those fans that day would expect that by November, the Second City’s nearly 9 decade World Series championship drought would be over.
By the All Star break, the Sox were comfortably in command of the AL Central race with a 57-29 record. They were 9 games clear of Minnesota in the division, and 6 games ahead of the Angels in the entire American League.
Things didn’t go quite as swimmingly in the second half, despite opening the second half slate with yet another 1-0 victory over the Indians, this time in Cleveland. After the break, the Sox went 42-34, but the Indians caught fire, going 46-28 and nearly catching the Sox atop the division.
The Sox held on, and eventually clinched the division with a victory in Detroit. The Indians got within 1.5 games, but the Sox won 8 of their last 10 to seal the division title.
Chicago went into the postseason with the AL’s best record of 99-63 (2nd best in MLB overall, behind St. Louis’ 100-62 mark). They drew the defending champion Boston Red Sox, who had just ended their 86 year title drought the previous year. Chicago’s Sox were undeterred, walloping the Red Sox 14-2. They hit five home runs in teh game, including one from light-hitting leadoff man Scott Podesdnik, who had not hit a home run in the regular season.
After a 5-4 win at home in game 2, the series shifted to Boston for game 3. The White Sox held a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the sixth after a Manny Ramirez lead-off home run off Freddy Garcia. Boston then loaded the bases with nobody out against Damaso Marte. Manager Ozzie Guillen turned to former Yankee Orlando Hernandez. He induced two pop-outs and a strike out of Johnny Damon to end the threat, and preserve a one-run lead, and they would go on to win that game 5-3 to move on to the ALCS.
There, they’d face an Angels team in game 1 playing their third game in three nights in three different cities after weather postponed a portion of the other ALDS between the Yankees and Angels. Those Angels managed to shake off jet lag and win the first game in Chicago, but from there, the Sox starting staff took over.
Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland, Freddy Garcia, and Jose Contreras all threw complete game victories, allowing a combined 8 runs over those four games, sending the White Sox to the World Series for the first time since 1959 as the Sox found out that winning a pennant is so much better in “Ell-Ay”.
In the World Series, they squared off with the Houston Astros, who knocked off a 100-win Cardinals team in six games. Jermaine Dye opened the scoring in the Fall Classic with a solo home run off Roger Clemens in what would be his final post-season appearance. The Sox would go on to win 5-3, getting a 4-out save from Bobby Jenks.
Game 2 saw both starters pitch relatively well, but Andy Pettite out-dueled Mark Buehrle as the Astros held a 4-2 lead into the 7th. The Sox would load the bases with 2 out in that inning, and Houston turned to Chad Qualls to end the rally, but on the first pitch of Qualls appearance, Paul Konerko took Buehrle off the hook for the loss with a go-ahead grand slam.
Jenks, however, would not be able to save this game, as the Astros scored twice off him in the 9th to tie the game. Brad Lidge, who was still tracking the home run that Albert Pujols hit off of him in game 5 of the NLCS a week or so prior, came on to buy the Astros an inning and get the game to extras. Scott Podsednik, however, had other ideas, as he hit a walk-off home run to send the Sox to Texas with a 2-0 Series lead.
Game 3 was the first-ever World Series game played in the state of Texas, and around the 12th inning, I began to wonder if it’d ever end. Mark Buehrle quickly realized that he should probably stop pounding Busch Light’s in the clubhouse and put on his cleats, because he might be needed to pitch an inning of relief. Finally, in the 14th, former Astro Geoff Blum hit a tie-breaking home run, and after adding another insurance, Buehrle came into the game and got the save at around 2 a.m. local time.
Bleary-eyed, and bushy-tailed, the Sox arrived at the ballpark in Houston knowing that a title was in reach. Sweaty Freddy Garcia got the ball, he was outstanding, holding the Astros scoreless and scattering 4 hits over 7 innings. Astros starter Brandon Backe was similarly superb in his 7 innings of work, only allowing 5 hits.
In the 8th, pinch-hitter Willie Harris got on with a lead-off single, and after two productive outs, he stood on third base for Dye. His ground-ball base hit up the middle drove in what turned out to be the final run scored in the series.
Houston didn’t go down without a fight, however. It took two spectacular defensive plays from shortstop Juan Uribe to shut the door on the Astros, and start the celebration. But after his diving play into the stands in foul territory for the 2nd out of the inning, and his charging catch-and-throw to Konerko at first, the Sox could finally celebrate ending 88 years of futility.
A few days later, Paul Konerko would present the ball from the final out to owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who said he’d trade one of his six Bulls NBA titles for a World Series title for his White Sox. Thankfully, those 2005 Sox gave him that title.