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Walk-off Winner

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When is a quality start not a quality start? -- When you walk 6 batters and have 3 wild pitches on the night.

Put simply, Freddy Garcia didn't have it Saturday night. He couldn't find the zone at all early in the game, and struggled with his control all game. Home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth had a tight zone for much of the game, but Freddy was never really able to adjust. He kept trying to make perfect pitches with breaking balls. It looked like he didn't trust his fastball at all.

Still, Garcia got the job done, getting through the seventh having allowed only 2 runs on a first inning Jeff Kent home run. He battled. That's what winners do. When they don't have their best stuff they keep you in the game and hope the offense can bail them out.

It could be argued that Ozzie stuck with Garcia for too long tonight, and I probably wouldn't have run him out there for the 8th. Garcia had thrown 110 pitches through 7 innings, and as I stated had struggled with his control. But Ozzie wanted to give Freddy every opportunity to win that game. When Garcia gave up a double to Kent to lead off the 8th, most managers would have pulled him. Garcia had been most effective late in the game, and had been throwing strikes. So I can't fault Ozzie for sticking with him for the entire inning, even though he did allow Kent to score on a wild pitch.

I would have been more upset with Ozzie if he had pulled Garcia after the Kent double. If you're going to stick with a guy, stick with him. Don't pussyfoot around. Ozzie didn't. He stuck with his guy. -- I know I'll take 8IP and 3 ER from Freddy every time out if I can get it.

During tonight's game I just had a feeling like they would pull it out. Even though Freddy was struggling, they were within striking distance all night. Even when the Dodgers added the run in the 8th, I knew we had the best part of our line up coming up in Iguchi, Thomas, and Konerko. You could just feel it. The Dodgers had wasted too many opportunities to escape the Cell with an easy victory.

In the ninth, it wasn't the players I had expected who came through. Tadahito Iguchi had a nice at-bat to work a lead-off walk, but Frank Thomas and Paul Konerko disappointed by making first pitch outs. Carl Everett singled home Iguchi, who had advanced to second on Thomas' groundout. Then Willie Harris stole second on the first pitch he saw as a pinch runner for Everett.

The Dodgers failing to hold Harris, who was inserted for the express purposed of stealing second, was really the turning point in the game. By cruising easily into second, he was able to score on a Baltimore-chop of a single back up the middle by Aaron Rowand.

The final straw for the Dodgers was when A.J. Pierzynski appeared to pop out, but Hee Seop Choi appeared to give only a slight effort to catch the ball that ended up on the steps of the Dodgers dugout. In Choi's defense, he probably needed to be 6'10" to make that play, but he could have tried harder. I turned to my friend in the bar and said, "Choi may have just cost them the game right there." One pitch later, I was right. Pierzynski drove a ball to left center field that found it's way just over the wall for a White Sox Winner.

That's all I asked for.