Everything that happened in 2005 was under the direction of manager Ozzie Guillén. After his inaugural season in 2004, in which his club went 83-79 and finished second in the American League Central Division, Guillén approached General Manager Kenny Williams. He asked Williams for a makeover for his club. Guillén envisioned his team playing small ball.
Williams agreed with Guillén. The Sox already had a feisty manager, solid pitching, and power hitters. They had loads and loads of power hitters. The Sox decided to clean up a bit and bring in players with the team first attitude. Guillén wanted more speed, so Scott Podsednik was brought in to be the leadoff hitter and to create havoc for opposing pitchers. Guillén wanted pitching, so Williams got Freddy García, Orlando "El Duque" Hernández, Luis Vizcaíno, Dustin Hermanson, and in July, hard throwing closer Bobby Jenks was brought up.
Another important factor to Guillén’s new plan was to have guys who put the team in front of their own personal accomplishments. Jermaine Dye was added for veteran leadership and provided an important bat and glove in the lineup. Tadahito Iguchi came in from Japan to play second base and bat second behind Podsednik. Iguchi would prove his value all year long.
Finally, the Sox decided to add a little fire into a mostly laid back and quiet clubhouse. This need brought controversial catcher A. J. Pierzynski to Chicago after playing six years for division rival Minnesota, and one year for San Francisco. Pierzynski is known as a grinder for his hard-nosed play and every day effort. He would also end up doing an outstanding job with the pitching staff, a strength for the White Sox all season.
Heading into the start of the 2005 campaign, the White Sox were picked by most experts to finish fourth in their division. They didn’t think that a team that had relied on power hitters for so long would be able to withstand a change and play small ball. However, the Sox showed right away what small ball was all about. On Opening Day, against the Cleveland Indians, Mark Buehrle threw eight innings of two hit shutout baseball, and Aaron Rowand drove in Paul Konerko in a 1-0 White Sox win.
The Sox would go on to win that series two games to one, and then would travel to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a.k.a. the "House of Horrors". However, this new look White Sox team handled it with ease and would go on to win that series 2-1 as well. So, the Sox were now 4-2, atop the Central Division, and had just won two series against their biggest division rivals.
The winning continued, as the Sox wound up winning eight straight from April 18 April 25. During this time, the Sox mastered the art of timely hitting, excellent starting pitching, and great defense.
The Sox breezed through April, going 17-7 and then won seven straight May games to start the month, making it eight in a row overall. On May 20, it was the beginning of the Cross-Town Classic in Chicago, as the White Sox traveled to Wrigley Field. The Sox took the first game 5-1 behind Freddy García’s stellar outing, and captured a 5-3 game 2 victory thanks to a 2 out, 2 run single by Paul Konerko.
However, the Sox were not able to complete the sweep as the Cubs salvaged the series with a 4-3 victory despite rookie Brandon McCarthy’s solid major league debut.
The Sox then rolled into June with a 35-17 record. On June 6, the team hit the road for the beginning of interleague play against the Colorado Rockies. The bats came alive in the three game series, as the Sox scored 26 runs in hitter happy Denver. The winning continued in San Diego, as the Sox took two of three from the Padres. Aaron Rowand saved the series win with a three run home run in the top of the 10th inning over all-time Major League Baseball saves leader Trevor Hoffman. The win sent the team home happy, as they now got to enjoy a twelve game homestand.
The Sox would go 8-4 on this homestand, highlighted by a series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Part 2 of the Cross-Town Classic against the Cubs. In the series against Los Angeles, the first time the teams had met since the 1959 World Series, the Sox got revenge on the Dodgers, sweeping them in a three game set. The third game was highlighted by two sacrifice bunts in the eighth inning, one of which became a single for Scott Podsednik. Aaron Rowand came up big again with a two run single to put the Sox ahead 4-3.
This smart ball rally, which was on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, illustrated to the rest of the baseball world that the Sox meant business in 2005,, and they were willing to go to all levels in order to attain it. In the series against the Cubs, the Sox exploded for twelve runs in the opening contest, becoming the largest score differential in the 46 Cross-Town Classic Series games to that point. However, the runs were much harder to come by in the next two games, as the ChiSox scored only two resulting in two straight defeats.
The Sox would open up July at the end of a six game road trip and entered the month at 53-24. With July came the All-Star game in Detroit. At the break, the Sox were 57-29, and sent four representatives to the game in Detroit. Mark Buehrle was the starting pitcher for the American League, and got the victory by throwing two innings, giving up three hits and no runs. Other Sox All-Stars were pitcher Jon Garland, first baseman Paul Konerko, and left fielder Scott Podsednik. Podsednik was voted in by the fans in the first ever final vote where fans could vote for one additional player to be added on the American League and National League rosters. All four got into the game, with Garland throwing a shutout inning, and Podsednik and Konerko both getting at-bats. The four helped the American League to a 7-5 victory, which gave the AL home field advantage in the World Series. Little did Chicago know that they would be enjoying that home field advantage later in the season.
After the All-Star Break, the Sox picked up right where they left off. They swept the Cleveland Indians in four games, and won the first game against Detroit. After Detroit, the Sox would finally get to prove that they were as good as they were when the powerful Boston Red Sox came to town. The White Sox and Red Sox would end up splitting the series at two games apiece. This gave Chicago confidence that they could play with anyone.
Entering August, the Sox were at 68-35 and atop the AL Central by 15 games. However, August and September are the two toughest months of the season, as was shown by the Sox’s play. They began well, by winning two of three in New York against the Yankees, where the defense was the name of the game as Scott Podsednik and Aaron Rowand made highlight reel catches. However, after that series, the Sox traveled to Boston, and that began a seven game losing streak; by far the longest of the season for the Southsiders. The lead kept dwindling day by day, and they finally broke out of the streak at the hands of the New York Yankees and Randy Johnson. The Sox did something that put them in the record books. They hit four home runs off Johnson in the fourth inning. They went back to back to back with Tadahito Iguchi, Aaron Rowand, and Paul Konerko. Then, Chris Widger hit a three run homer. The Sox continued to limp into September, with a 12–16 August mark.
With September brought a record of 81-51, and the lead in the Central still dwindling. However, certain players started to step their games up. Brandon McCarthy, who had been unpredictable earlier in the year, now had developed into one of the Sox’s best starters down the stretch. But no pitcher had a bigger impact on the club then José Contreras. He had a 6-0 record and a 1.99 ERA in September. Another big piece to the puzzle was Bobby Jenks.
The young 270 pound fireballer moved into the closer’s role after Dustin Hermanson went down, and ate up opponents with his 100 mph heat, and devastating curveball. Jenks would continue to play a major role in the postseason.
There were several scary moments in the final month, such as the lead in the Central getting down to 1 ½ games on September 20. However, the Sox picked up their game and went on to win the division on September 29 4-2 in Detroit behind Freddy García’s effective outing and Jenks came on in the ninth to seal the deal. The Sox then traveled to Cleveland, where just one Indian victory would have given them a playoff spot. But, the Sox, using mostly reserves to rest their starters for the playoffs, swept the Tribe, eliminating them from postseason competition. The Sox would finish the regular season with a 99-63 record, winning their second American League Central title.By WIKI
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