No. 3 hitter Jermaine Dye tried to generate some offense Tuesday night with a sixth-inning bunt attempt and catcher A.J. Pierzynski tried to steal second base in the seventh.
Right idea, wrong players.
On Tuesday they played out of sorts in a 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series at U.S. Cellular Field.
Sox ace Jose Contreras had his nine-game winning streak snapped, victimized by an array of shortcomings, offensively and defensively.
"If I was angry, I'd let you guys know," Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said.
The Angels, who arrived at their hotel shortly before morning rush-hour traffic reached its peak, provided enough fuel to assure themselves of a split in the first two games of this best-of-seven series.
"We did enough things offensively to hold on," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
The Sox took great pride in hitting in the clutch during their AL Division Series, compiling a .416 batting average with runners in scoring position.
But they lost their edge throughout this game, which ended their winning streak at eight. Joe Crede hit a one-out home run off Angels starter Paul Byrd that cut their deficit to 3-1. After Juan Uribe flied out, Scott Podsednik and Tadahito Iguchi singled. But Dye ended the rally when he fouled out to first.
In the fourth, Pierzynski cut the deficit to 3-2 on a two-out, RBI single, but Crede struck out to end the inning.
That was the breather Byrd needed. In the sixth, Dye popped a bunt back to Byrd on the first pitch for the first out in a five-pitch inning. In the seventh, Byrd hit Aaron Rowand with his first pitch and Scot Shields replaced Byrd, who yielded two runs on five hits in six-plus innings on three days rest.
Pierzynski then grounded into a force play and was thrown out at second on a steal attempt as Crede took a called second strike before flying out to right.
The Sox plan was to be patient against Byrd, but "he threw a lot of strikes and we never got his back to the wall," Guillen said.
The Sox's best chance to tie the game came in the eighth when Uribe hit a broken-bat blooper over the mound. Kennedy charged in, but the ball cut away from him for an infield hit.
Podsednik failed twice to lay down a bunt, then watched Shields snap a called third strike over the outside corner.
After Iguchi popped to short, Dye extended the rally with a single, but Uribe was left stranded at second when Paul Konerko flied to shallow center.
In the ninth, third baseman Chone Figgins mishandled Carl Everett's grounder for an error. But Rowand failed twice to move pinch-runner Pablo Ozuna on bunt attempts and eventually hit into a force play.
The Sox's staff spent nearly four hours Monday reviewing reports on the Angels and Yankees from their scouts.
But it was the tired Angels that carried out their game plan.
Kennedy perfectly executed a hit-and-run play in the Angels' two-run third, and catcher Bengie Molina made a perfect throw on a pitchout to nail Podsednik on a steal attempt in the fifth.
Contreras hadn't allowed more than three earned runs during his nine-game winning streak but found himself trailing for the second time in his last three starts when nemesis Garret Anderson launched a home run deep into the right-field seats leading off the second.
As convincing as Anderson's homer was, Contreras' third inning was more baffling.
Steve Finley, who batted only .222 during the regular season and .091 during the AL Division Series, led off the third with a single through the right side and Kennedy followed with his hit.
Figgins laid down a sacrifice bunt to set up the strangest sequence of the Sox's postseason.
Orlando Cabrera hit a soft grounder down the third-base line. Joe Crede charged and cocked his arm, only to see Finley was going to score from third. Crede threw to first but was too late.
Formidable Vladimir Guerrero followed with a grounder back to the mound. Pierzynski signaled for Contreras to throw home for what would have been an easy out, but Contreras threw to second to start what should have been an easy inning-ending double play.
Cabrera slid late and hard into Iguchi, whose flip to first sailed well over the head of Konerko at first, allowing Kennedy to score for a 3-0 Angels' lead.
Contreras hadn't trailed since the second inning of an 8-2 victory at Detroit.
"Jose threw the ball the same way he did in the second half," Guillen said.
firstname.lastname@example.orgCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times