Early fireworks spark White Sox
Five-run first inning capped by Pierzynski's three-run blast
CHICAGO -- White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen wanted his team to make an early offensive statement against the Red Sox on Tuesday, but even he was surprised at just how big of a statement it made.
A big first inning may have been expected from a strong hitting Boston offense, but it was the oftentimes anemic White Sox that got off to a big early lead, scoring five runs in the first inning of Game 1 of the American League Division Series.
"Early in the day, I say [if] we score first, you know we have a chance," Guillen said. "I guess when you play the world champs, you are pumped up a little bit."
Pumped up might be a bit of an understatement.
After Paul Konerko hit into a forceout to score Scott Podsednik and give the home team a 1-0 lead, the bats started to heat up. Two straight singles from Carl Everett and Aaron Rowand followed Konerko's fielder's choice. Rowand's single scored Konerko and put runners at first and third with A.J. Pierzynski coming up.
Pierzynski attempted to bunt Matt Clement's first pitch down the third-base line, but it went foul.
"I was mad because it was a chance at an easy run for us," Pierzynski said. "After that, I gave myself a slap on the foot with my bat and tried to get a hit so the guy would come home."
He wouldn't have been so upset if he knew that on the next pitch he would add more than just one run. On an 0-1 pitch, Pierzynski hit the South Siders' first of five eventual home runs in the game. The 383-foot bomb over the left-field wall gave the South Siders a commanding 5-0 lead.
Though the home run by Pierzynski was huge in terms of score, almost every Sox hitter gave much of the credit to what happened to start the first.
Early miscues in the inning by Boston's Clement allowed Chicago to get runners into scoring position. Podsednik, the leadoff man, was hit by a pitch. Tadahito Iguchi moved Podsednik over to second on a sacrifice bunt. Jermaine Dye, was then hit by another pitch. Podsednik quickly stole third with Konerko batting.
Seeing Podsednik get on base in his first at-bat was what the White Sox became accustomed to during their first-half run.
"My job is to get on base and to change the tempo of the ballgame," Podsednik said. "Any way that I can reach base is a plus, and being hit by the pitch kind of started [the offense] off."
Such a strong offensive showing may have been a surprise for this White Sox team, but it's not the first time that Chicago had accomplished such an inning in the postseason.
Tuesday's game finished with the same end result, but the White Sox aren't going to win every game by landing an early knockout punch.
"We've got to go into [Game 2] knowing that the runs aren't going to come easy like they did today," Podsednik said. "We can't top what we did today, but instead have to prepare for what tomorrow will likely be -- a battle and a grind."
Kelly Thesier is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.