Wow. You can't make this stuff up. The Red Sox are now in Year 1 of waiting for The Next Championship, scheduled for 2090 (every 86 years), while their AL East pals in pinstripes gave back what they took away from the Angels -- home field advantage -- after just a single day. Aaron Small is human, after all, choosing his post-season debut to break up his personal 10-0 Yankee perfect record. The Bosox/Chisox recap follows behind the "More" link, but feel free to comment on either game, kids.
Paul Konerko's two run homer had given the White Sox a 4-2 heading for the Boston sixth. But Manny Ramirez led off the bottom half with his second homer of the game to cut the lead to a single run, and Ozzie Guillen summoned LH Damaso Marte to relieve Freddy Garcia.
Marte hasn't done much to make Ozzie happy lately, and he remained true to this distressing pattern. Trot Nixon singled to RF - Marte then walked Bill Mueller and John Olerud to load the bases with one out.
So Ozzie sent for El Duque.
If Orlando Hernandez is telling the truth about when he was born, he was only 32 when he came to the major leaguies in 1998, already a legend back in Cuba. On his next birthday, which is Tuesday, he'll only be 40 years old. Right.
It may be remembered that Kenny Williams, Ozzie Guillen and the White Sox took a fair bit of heat when they decided to keep Hernandez on the post-season roster instead of young Brandon McCarthy. Here's what Rotoworld had to say:
A big mistake in our opinion, especially considering that McCarthy pitched seven scoreless innings against the Red Sox in a start last month. There is the problem that McCarthy wouldn't have been able to go on Tuesday or probably Wednesday, but he would have been a better to hold down the Red Sox offense than El Duque.
The White Sox were banking on Hernandez extensive post-season experience, and his history of some pretty impressive October pitching performances: lifetime in the post-season, he is 9-3, 2.65.
On came the old man, his team ahead by a run, no one out, the bases loaded, Red Sox captain Jason Varitek waiting for him. El Duque fell behind 2-0, got a swinging strike, and then an infield pop up for the first out.
Next up was Tony Graffanino, looking to redeem himself after his disastrous Game Two error. He fouled off three pitches, running the count full. He fouled off a seventh pitch, and an eighth, and a ninth. And then he hit a harmless little pop up to the infield. Two out, bases still loaded, White Sox still clinging to a one run lead.
Johnny Damon was next. Again the count went full. Damon fouled off the first 3-2 pitch. And then Hernandez got him swinging to end the inning. White Sox still winning.
And those of us who were too young to see Pete Alexander in the 1926 World Series - and that would be, like, everybody - now have some comparable frame of reference.
It just doesn't get any better.
In the seventh, Hernandez struck out Renteria and Ortiz, and retired Manny Ramirez on a ground ball.
In the eighth, he set down Nixon and Mueller before John Olerud finally dented his armour with a two-out single. But El Duque brushed aside Varitek again, to send the game to the ninth inning. His work was done. The Sox added another run in the ninth, and turned the game over to Bobby Jenks, who retired the Red Sox in order. David Ortiz was in the on-deck circle when it ended, with Manny Ramirez waiting behind him.
Freddy Garcia gets the win, Bobby Jenks gets the save, Paul Konerko had the big game-changing hit.
But this game belonged to Orlando Hernandez. That was a Hold for the Ages.