The White Sox completed their incredible conquest Wednesday night, eliminating the final demons that haunted the franchise since their last World Series title in 1917.
They completed their stunning run in a manner that mirrored their amazingly successful season, riding the pitching of Freddy Garcia and the bullpen to a 1-0 victory over Houston and completing a four-game sweep of the 2005 World Series.
"In sports, I haven't had a greater feeling," said general manager Ken Williams, whose transformation of a franchise to an emphasis on pitching and defense was rewarded greatly in the final game.
The players celebrated on the field and in the clubhouse, where Williams was doused with champagne after hoisting the World Series trophy.
"Enjoy it and be safe," slugger Paul Konerko advised several thousand fans who gathered behind the dugout to celebrate.
The Sox snapped the second-longest World Series drought in history. The longest dry spell, 97 years, belongs to the Cubs, followed by Cleveland at 57.
The Sox finished the season with an eight-game winning streak and with 16 wins in their final 17 games dating back to the regular season. They also won their final 11 road games.
Their 11-1 mark is the second-best postseason mark. Only the 1976 Cincinnati Reds team that manager Ozzie Guillen idolized as a kid in his native Venezuela won all seven postseason games.
This also marked the 19th time a team swept a Series opponent.
"We stuck together," designated hitter Carl Everett said. "Everyone was against us, but we didn't care."
Under the direction of Williams and Guillen, the Sox won their first American League Central title since 2000 with a league-best 99-63 record. They swept defending Series champion Boston in the AL Division Series and eliminated the Los Angeles Angels 4-1 in the AL Championship Series.
But Wednesday, the Sox didn't push across the winning run until the eighth, and they did it in their resourceful style.
In his first Series at-bat, Willie Harris, pinch-hitting for Garcia, poked a leadoff single off Brad Lidge and moved to second on Scott Podsednik's sacrifice.
With two outs, Jermaine Dye singled up the middle to score Harris and earn the Series' Most Valuable Player Award and a Chevrolet truck.
"It paid off," Bill Dye told his son before hugging him on the field. Dye batted .438 in the Series.
The Sox's bullpen carried the torch for Garcia, who yielded only four hits in seven innings and didn't run into serious trouble until the sixth, when he struck out Jason Lane with the bases loaded.
"I felt great in the bullpen," said Garcia, who yielded only two runs in his final 16 postseason innings. "I just wanted to make sure I got one run."
In the ninth, Lane led off with a single off rookie closer Bobby Jenks, making his fourth appearance in the Series. Lane moved into scoring position on Brad Ausmus' sacrifice, but shortstop Juan Uribe saved the victory for the Sox.
Uribe fearlessly ran over the short wall in foul territory to make a catch of pinch-hitter Chris Burke's popup.
But that paled in comparison to the magnitude of the next play, when Uribe charged a slow roller and fired to first to barely nail pinch-hitter Orlando Palmeiro and set off a wild celebration at the pitcher's mound.
"Uribe is one of the best shortstops in the league," Everett declared.
The Sox's advance scouts, led by Bryan Little, prepared the game plan that helped limit the Astros to a .203 batting average. Cleanup hitter Morgan Ensberg batted .111, leadoff batter Craig Biggio and Lane each hit .222, and shortstop Adam Everett was 1-for-15.
"To beat Boston, get four consecutive complete games against the Angels and then beat Houston in four, that's a cherry on top," pitching coach Don Cooper said.
"I'm going to celebrate and enjoy this until next spring training."
This was the first 1-0 game in a Series since Atlanta beat Cleveland in 1995.
"That type of game is like the ones I watched for 162 games during the regular season," champagne-soaked Guillen said.
Guillen steered the Sox on course after they lost nearly all of a 15-game lead on Aug. 1 and saw a 9 1/2-game lead shrink to 1 1/2 games during a 16-day span in September.
But they regained their momentum in the final five games of the regular season and never let up.
"We never had any egos on this team," said Dye, who came over as a free agent from Oakland.
"I think that was what was really special about this club."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times