The White Sox clinched their first pennant since 1959 tonight with a 6-3 win of the Angels. I knew that the White Sox had it won after the third controversial (read, miscalled) play of the series, and the first that was not in their favor, was overturned.
With the score tied in the top of the eighth, the Sox first two batters struck out, and then Aaron Rowand walked. The next batter was A.J. Pierzynski, the center of every controversial play in the series, hit a line drive off of pitcher Kelvim Ecscobar. Escobar retrieved the ball and attempted to tag Pierzynski. However, he held the ball in his pitching hand and tagged the runner with his gloved hand. Again the ump got the call wrong.
First base umpire Randy Marsh, apparently obscured on the play, called the runner out. The Angels left the field, and the inning was apparently over. But Ozzie Guillen and Pierzynski immediately protested, and the Marsh acquiesced to a conference. Very quickly, the call was rightly overturned.
The Sox went on to score as the next batter, Joe Crede, hit an infield single deep to second, scoring the lead runner, Rowand, scored. Two more runs scored in the ninth as the Angels went down in order the last four innings (before which they lead 3-2).
There was one other controversial play in the bottom of the fifth with the Angels trailing, 2-1. With Adam Kennedy at first, Chone Figgins had his first decent hit of the series with a drive deep down the line in right field. The ball bounced once and a fan leaned over and grabbed it. Kennedy had initially been held up at third for the automatic double. But when Mike Scioscia protested, the umpires decided to award him home, rightly. The thing that surprised me was that they kept Figgins at second when the ball appeared not to be bounding into the stands but would have rattled around the wall in right. Giving him third was not out of the question.
As it turned out, it made no difference, since Figgins scored on a fielder's choice, moving him to third, and a sacrifice fly, giving the Angels the 3-2 lead.
The ump is within his rights to assign the runners to whichever base they feel is necessary to nullify the interference according to the rules:
INTERFERENCE (d) Spectator interference occurs when a spectator reaches out of the stands, or goes on the playing field, and touches a live ball. On any interference the ball is dead.
When there is spectator interference with any thrown or batted ball, the ball shall be dead at the moment of interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in his opinion will nullify the act of interference.
Annyway, since the Sox last the pennant, eleven other teams have represented the AL in the Fall Classic, all but the D-Rays, Rangers, and Mariners. The Brewers, who no longer play in the American League, have even gone:
AL Pennant since 1959
New York Yankees
Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Kansas City Royals
Finally, the Sox got four complete games out of their last four starters. They came within two outs of five. No team since 1968 has recorded four complete games in one playoff series. That, of course, predates divisional play and the attendant extra rounds of playoffs. Here are the only teams in the last fifty years to amass four or more complete games in any playoff series:
St. Louis Cardinals
Los Angeles Dodgers
New York Yankees
New York Yankees
Of course, the 1919 Black Sox has five complete games in ceding the Series to the Reds, so that might not be a good omen. (By the way, the Detroit Wolverines and St. Louis Browns, now Cardinals, registered 15 complete games each in the 1887 NL-AA World Series.)
I wonder who feels worse right now, Cubbie fans or Indian fans. Remember that this team was left for dead a month or so ago when the Miracle Indians were hot on thie tail. The Indians come that close, but didn't even make the playoffs after losing six of their last seven.