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January 9, 2006

Battle of Champions

Chicago White Sox @ Chiba Lotte Marines, Game 3

by Dave Haller

Note: The Battle of Champions is a theoretical series between the 2005 World Series Champion Chicago White Sox and the 2005 Nippon Series Champion Chiba Lotte Marines. We are using Diamond Mind Baseball to simulate the best-of-seven series. This is Game 3. For more information on the Battle of Champions, read last week's series preview.

This series is being simulated in early January and results are published every weekday until its conclusion. But remember that in the Diamond Mind universe, the Battle of Champions is being played right after the 2005 World Series ended. Diamond Mind has built in travel days between cities--just like the World Series schedule--and gametime weather will be reflective of seasonal climates in Chicago and Chiba City.

* * *

Game 3 | White Sox 7, Marines 6 | Box | White Sox lead series, 2-1

CHIBA CITY, JAPAN (BP) - In light of Game 2 and Tadahito Iguchi, Marines fans should know a thing or two about celebrating too early. It's inadvisable.

As the Battle of Champions continued on the other side of the globe, the Chicago White Sox dealt the Chiba Lotte Marines another heartbreaking loss in Game 3, this time on Lotte's own turf. Despite Jon Garland's dismal outing, the White Sox scratched and clawed their way back from a six-run deficit to claim a 7-6 victory and a 2-1 series lead.

Chiba Lotte's five-spot in the second inning chased Garland from the game. A bases-loaded walk by Tsuyoshi Nishioka (Garland's third free pass of the inning) scored the first run. Koichi Hori then lined a double that cleared the bases as Scott Podsednik and Aaron Rowand converged in left-center field. Saburo Ohmura and Matt Franco each followed with singles to right, scoring one more and convincing Ozzie Guillen to take the baseball from his star pitcher.

Garland let seven of the last eight batters he faced reach base, and left runners at the corners with two outs. Reliever Luis Vizcaino promptly hit the first batter he faced, Benny Agbayani, to re-load the bases.

When Seung-Yeop Lee drove Vizcaino's very next pitch high and deep to center field, the raucous crowd reached its crescendo. But the bay winds hampered the ball's flight, and Rowand once again flashed his leather on the warning track, snatching an extra-base hit from the Marines and saving Chicago from an 8-0 hole.

The middle innings became a pitchers' duel between Marines starter Dan Serafini and the Chicago bullpen. With the second inning in their rear-view mirror, White Sox relievers combined to yield just three hits and one run (via Kazuya Fukuura's RBI double in the sixth).

Serafini held Chicago scoreless over his first six innings by scattering three singles. Then the wheels fell off. To open the seventh, Paul Konerko and Carl Everett both singled to right field, and Rowand walked on nine pitches to load the bases. Just as Chiba Lotte's did, Chicago's first run scored on a walk as Joe Crede took four straight balls from Serafini (whose second pitch nearly skipped past the catcher).

Serafini's final undoing was a menacing at-bat by Juan Uribe. Uribe took ball one, fouled off the next nine pitches, took ball two, then drilled the 12th offering to the wall in left-center. Everett and Rowand scored on the double. Bobby Valentine, with his starter's pitch count suddenly at 110, called on Yasuhiko Yabuta to face the top of the order. Podsednik slapped an opposite-field single to plate Crede and Uribe. Chiba's giant lead had been cut to one.

Yabuta (0-1) re-emerged for the eighth, and White Sox hitters pounced on him with two quick singles. A.J. Pierzynski's double sailed over Ohmura and ricocheted off the fence, scoring Konerko to tie the game. After another pitching change, Crede's sacrifice fly to the warning track plated the deciding run for Chicago.

Iguchi and Podsednik both went 2-for-5. Podsednik added two RBI and a steal. Uribe and Crede also supplied two RBI apiece.

Dustin Hermanson (2-0) worked two effortless innings before giving way to closer Bobby Jenks, who earned the series' first save.

Against Houston in the World Series, the Chicago bullpen worked seven innings of a 14-inning Game 3. In Game 3 of the Battle of Champions, five Chicago relievers logged a total of 7 1/3 frames--without extra innings. White Sox starters, who completed the seventh inning in all but one game of the major league playoffs, have been surprisingly shaky in this series. Jose Contreras couldn't finish the fourth inning of Game 1. Garland's early exit in Game 3 could jeopardize the team's bullpen depth in Games 4 and 5, even though Chicago's crew was one of baseball's best in 2005.

So far in the Battle of Champions, the Marines have outscored Chicago 15-1 from the first through sixth innings. From the seventh inning forward, Chicago has outscored Chiba Lotte 12-5.

* * *

Tuesday:
Battle of Champions: Game 4
White Sox lead series, 2-1

Chicago White Sox (Freddy Garcia, 14-8, 3.87 ERA)
@
Chiba Lotte Marines (Naoyuki Shimizu, translated 7-10, 5.53)

* * *

Series Index: Battle of Champions Preview
Game 1 | Marines 10, White Sox 1 | Box | Marines lead series, 1-0
Game 2 | White Sox 5, Marines 4 | Box | Series tied, 1-1
Game 3 | White Sox 7, Marines 6 | Box | White Sox lead series, 2-1
Game 4 | Chicago @ Chiba Lotte | Tues., 1/10
Game 5 | Chicago @ Chiba Lotte | Wed., 1/11
Game 6 | Chiba Lotte @ Chicago | Thurs., 1/12 (if necessary)
Game 7 | Chiba Lotte @ Chicago | Fri., 1/13 (if necessary)
Marines 2005 stats translated

* * *

As their Web site www.diamond-mind.com says, Diamond Mind Baseball is devoted to "realistic strategy-oriented baseball games for use on home computers and the Internet." Special thanks to Tom Tippett and everyone at DMB for their cooperation.

Dave Haller is a staff writer for Baseball Prospectus. You can reach him by clicking here or click here to see Dave's other articles.

Related Content:  Chicago White Sox

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