Joe Crede made the difference in Game 1. The home run he hit in the fourth inning was big, of course, but he may have given the White Sox an even bigger lift with the defensive plays he made at third base. Keeping runs from scoring is equally as important as knocking in runs.He made diving plays on Morgan Ensberg in the sixth inning and Craig Biggio in the seventh that stopped the Astros from getting back on the board. I turned to some friends before the diving catch on Ensberg's shot and told them I thought the Astros would go on to win if they were able to put a run on the board in that situation. It's amazing how the postseason, and especially the World Series, always seems to bring an unheralded performer into the spotlight. This postseason, Joe Crede may be that player. He's hitting the ball and catching the ball in the clutch situations every time you turn around. The same thing can be said for Chris Burke of the Astros. As a relief pitcher, I felt a little bad for Wandy Rodriguez on Crede's home run. He had an 0-2 count and it looked like he got the ball out over the plate too much. Our scouting reports suggest that you have to go after him with hard stuff on the inside. It's not just Crede. I think the key to pitching against the White Sox is to make them uncomfortable by pitching inside. But that's not really the National League way. For whatever reason, a lot of NL pitchers seem to rely on throwing a lot of pitches down and away, coming inside once in a while to keep guys honest. In the AL, you have to come hard inside all of the time. I guess the speculation that the layoff might hurt the White Sox bullpen was put to rest, too. In fact, now I think the rest might have helped them. Neal Cotts and Bobby Jenks both looked even stronger than I recall from the regular season and our ALDS against them. Jenks has really proven himself over the last two and a half months. He's given Ozzie Guillen plenty of reason to have confidence in him. He was throwing 100 mph fastballs to the first batter he faced out of the bullpen, Jeff Bagwell. The big kid can also drop about 15-20 mph on his breaking pitch. That's just unfair from a hitter's standpoint. Clemens' hamstring injury is a real setback for the Astros. He uses that left leg to plant. To be effective, he has to be able to use that leg as a fulcrum and be able to come over the top of it. A hamstring injury can really affect a pitcher's mechanics. The Game 2 matchup between Andy Pettitte and Mark Buehrle is compelling. It should be a pitcher's duel. I've seen the Astros handle left-handers pretty well, but Buehrle is such a competitor that I don't think that will be the case against him. As for Pettitte, he might be able to keep guys like Aaron Rowand, Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye off balance with that cutter he throws inside on right-handed hitters. He's also a former AL pitcher with a lot of World Series experience. Mike Timlin has pitched for the Blue Jays, Mariners, Orioles, Cardinals, Phillies and Red Sox over 15 seasons in the Majors. During that span, he's reached the postseason eight times and pitched in three World Series. This past season, the 39-year-old right-hander made a record 81 appearances for the Red Sox, posting a career-best 2.24 ERA with 13 saves.
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