Purgatory Online

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Mark Buehrle pitched very well last night, and it's entirely possible that the White Sox would have won even without the benefit of Doug Eddings giving A.J. Pierzynski first base on a blown call. Of course, it would've been nice to find out, but that's just not how it went down.

As anyone who's interested knows by now, Eddings incontravertably blew the call in terms of whether Escobar's third strike was caught or not. The replays show it in the webbing of Josh Paul's glove; there's no real way to look at those pictures and see anything different. In real time, of course, it's not an easy call to make, especially from behind the catcher, so if it was simply that Eddings missed the call, that would be unpleasant but understandable. The truly shameful bit is that Eddings clearly made the fist-pump motion he'd been using all night to signal an out, then claimed that he was merely signaling a strike. Chronicles of the Lads has already done the work on this, demonstrating that Eddings had repeatedly made that same motion to indicate an out, while never making it on third strikes in the dirt.

Should Josh Paul have tagged Pierzynski, just to be sure? Obviously, yes. It can't hurt, right? But when you know you've caught the ball, and you see your teammates start trotting off the field because the umpire has signaled the batter out, at some point you're entitled to assume the umpire isn't, you know, kidding.

But here's the thing: it's over. The deed is done, the game is lost, and there's no functional difference whatsoever between being tied at one game apiece because of a blown call and being tied at one game apiece because the Angels got blown out. After watching the last couple of games, I don't think the White Sox have a whole lot to celebrate, but the Angels have every right to be proud of coming in and very nearly winning two games on the road after their intensely grueling travel schedule, losing their ace pitcher, and sending a guy with step throat to the mound during Game 2.

I was also very impressed with Scioscia during the postgame press conference. Moments after losing a game like that, he said exactly the right things in a very measured manner. He made it clear he disagreed with the call, but also made it clear that the Angels simply didn't play well enough to absorb that kind of thing, which is what championship teams do. He took responsibility in a way that is the hallmark of this team. There won't be any excuses or whining in the clubhouse, because guys like Scioscia and Erstad have spent years establishing a culture that says that you don't get too high or too low, and when you take a tough loss you turn the page. That's why a guy like Jose Guillen never fit in with them, and it's why they'll play Game 3 without any carryover from this.

In the end, the White Sox aren't going to win a seven-game series because of one blown call. Both clubs need three more wins, and, from what I've seen during the season and in the last couple of games, the Angels are simply the better team. They'll have every opportunity to prove it starting tomorrow.