10/23/2005 3:16 AM ET
Widger: Relievers rose to the occasion
Chris Widger (left) greets Astros pitcher Russ Springer before Game 1 of the World Series. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)
There were some questions going into this game. We wondered how a team with so little playoff experience -- much less World Series experience -- was going to react going on the big stage. We had a lot of time off, especially the relievers. So we also wondered how those guys would handle coming into tight situations.
We got the right answers to those questions. We couldn't be happier with the way all of our guys responded.
The relievers really rose to the occasion for us. There are probably going to be a number of close games where the bullpen is going to be called upon before the Series is over and now they have a taste of what it's like.
Jose Contreras pitched another strong game. He's pretty much been our best starter in the second half of the season and that's saying a lot because we have such good starters. He settled in and pitched exceptionally down the stretch.
Tonight was typical of our bullpen in that they've stranded inherited runners all season long. They've done it time and time again. A lot of times, you expect to give up a run and hope to limit the damage and stay out of the big inning.
But those guys have surpassed expectations time and time again. Neal Cotts and Bobby Jenks striking out those three straight guys in the eighth inning was the difference in the game. That gave us the momentum we needed to finish them off.
Not a whole lot of managers would throw a 24-year-old who was in Double-A three months ago into a situation where he has to face a hitter the caliber of Jeff Bagwell with a one-run lead and a man on third. But that's just what Ozzie Guillen did with Jenks.
One of the main reasons this team plays with so much confidence is because Ozzie has so much confidence in everyone in this clubhouse. He's never concerned that something bad is going to happen because he's focused on something good happening.
A good example is the way he had confidence in the starters in the ALCS. Those were close games where most managers would go to the bullpen, especially a bullpen as good as ours. But he showed confidence in the starters and, in turn, they go out there with more confidence in themselves.
It's been uncanny the way Joe Crede always seems to get the job done when stakes are highest, both offensively and defensively. Our team has known about his glove for a long time, but I think baseball fans across the country are now getting to see for themselves how special he is at third base.
Joe's played all year with a herniated disc in his back, but you never hear him complain or even talk about it. He goes out there and dives and gets in the dirt and makes all of the plays.
I'm happy for him, too, because he took a lot of abuse from people who thought he was underachieving. Now they're seeing the real Joe Crede. He's feeling comfortable in his surroundings and he's one of the main reasons we are where we are right now.
Chris Widger, 34, has played parts of nine seasons in the Majors, primarily as a backup catcher, and has a .242 career batting average. Last season, he played for the Camden Riversharks of the Independent Atlantic League.