I have to admit, I was as disappointed as anyone to find out that Zach Stewart would be making the start today against the Cubs. The move means that instead of Jake Peavy and Chris Sale pitching in the series, we would be starting Peavy and two guys- Stewart and Gavin Floyd- who are struggling mightily.
Then I remembered a time in 2004 that the White Sox made a change to their rotation just before the series and announced that Felix Diaz would start in place of Scott Schoeneweis against Carlos Zambrano and the Cubs. Zambrano was having a wonderful season as he entered the game 8-2 with a 2.25 ERA. The Cubs were a lot better back then and sported a nifty 41-32 record coming in to the action.
Diaz entered the game having gone 4 1/3 in each of his two previous major league appearances and was 0-1 with an 11.42 ERA. The Cubs had won the first game of the series and the media had already basically given the game to them. Their fans were very fired up for the game at the Cell.
But then the game started. Diaz sent Mark Grudzielanek, Corey Paterson and Moises Alou down in order in the first. He set down Sammy Sosa, Todd Hollandsworth and Derrek Lee in the second. In the third, it was another 1-2-3 inning as Michael Barrett, Ramon Martinez and Grudzielanek went down.
In the bottom of the third, the Sox bats came alive. Frank Thomas and Carlos Lee drew one out walks and after a Jose Valentin pop out, Paul Konerko stepped to the plate and drilled a 3 run homer. A Joe Crede two run shot followed Timo Perez' infield single to give the Sox a 5-0 lead.
The Cubs would get two runs back in the 4th on a Sosa sac fly and a D. Lee single and one more in the 5th on a Patterson solo shot, but that was the end of the Cubs offense for the day.
Jose Valentin homered to lead off the 7th to give the Sox the 6-3 lead and that is how it ended.
Diaz final line was 6 IP, 6 hits, 1 BB, 2 K's, 3 ER. Cliff Politte, Damaso Marte and Shingo Takatsu would shut down the Cubs the rest of the day and Diaz would come away with his first major league win. The Sox would also take the Sunday game to give us the series victory.
Felix would win one more game on September 5th and after the 2004 season he would never see the major leagues again.
But for that one day in June 2004, Diaz entered crosstown classic history. Maybe Zach Stewart can do the same against a much less formidable Cub offense.