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January 10, 2006

Battle of Champions

Chicago White Sox @ Chiba Lotte Marines, Game 4

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 4. For more information on the Battle of Champions, read the series preview.

* * *

Game 4 | White Sox 12, Marines 4 | Box | White Sox lead series, 3-1

CHIBA CITY, JAPAN (BP) - Naoyuki Shimizu's first four pitches of the game walked Chicago leadoff man Scott Podsednik. When Podsednik was immediately caught stealing on a timely pitchout, Chiba Lotte's chances of winning had already maxed out.

Here's a hint: If you open the game with five consecutive balls, and your personal game highlights are contained within those five pitches, it's not a good sign.

Powered by three home runs and Carl Everett's 5-for-5 binge, the White Sox shellacked Marines pitchers for twenty hits in a 12-4 victory. Chiba Lotte, after the Game 4 no-contest and giving away late-inning leads in Games 2 and 3, is now cornered with a win-or-die ultimatum in the Battle of Champions.

Right after Podsednik was gunned down, Tadahito Iguchi pulled a solo shot to left and put Chicago on the board. Shimizu (0-1) continued to sputter--miraculously escaping without another run--and ended the first having thrown just 13 of 27 pitches for strikes.

The next inning, White Sox batters hit screaming liners on three of Shimizu's first four offerings. Chicago's second run scored on Podsednik's slow roller to third baseman Toshiaki Imae, who had no play at the plate. Shimizu again skirted around further damage.

Saburo Ohmura countered with an opposite-field triple and later scored on Matt Franco's groundout, cutting Chicago's lead in half.

When baseballs began dropping every which way in the top of the third, the game spun out of control. Jermaine Dye broke the ice with a grounder that Tsuyoshi Nishioka bobbled (dubiously ruled an infield hit by the Marines' official scorer). Shimizu managed two outs, one of which conceded a run, but subsequent singles by Joe Crede and Juan Uribe required a pitching change.

Still with two outs, Shingo Ono inherited two runners and a 5-1 ballgame. Then Podsednik singled. And Iguchi. And Dye, again. Paul Konerko and Everett also followed suit. Seven straight hitters singled--bloops, line drives, grounders and choppers--as the White Sox put the game out of reach.

The carnage: eight runs, 13 batters and 10 hits--two each by Dye, Konerko and Everett. Nine hits, seven runs, and two walks were charged to Shimizu over 2 2/3 innings. Chicago emerged with a 10-1 lead.

Everett's sixth-inning single was his fourth hit. After a brief rain delay forced the teams off the field, Ozzie Guillen removed Konerko and Dye. Everett stayed in, however, and yanked a home run to right center for his grand finale. Uribe went 3-for-5 with a double and a homer, and Iguchi added three RBI. Podsednik doubled twice and reached base four times, and his double in the ninth marked Chicago's twentieth hit.

But with a nine-run cushion, Chicago starter Freddy Garcia didn't have to be a hero. Garcia (1-0) breezed through the middle innings, and he kept the Marines at bay until they mounted a modest rally in the eighth inning. Catcher Tasuku Hashimoto tripled--something he hadn't done all season--and the skies again split open as he slid into third base. The rain stalled Chiba's rally efforts for the better part of an hour, but an infield single by Nishioka scored Hashimoto when play resumed. Nishioka crossed the plate when Ohmura rapped another triple--his second and the Marines' third of the game.

Garcia worked seven innings, struck out six and gave up three runs, six hits, and two walks. Cliff Politte bit the bullet for the overworked Chicago bullpen, and pitched the final two frames. He entered shortly after the second rain delay and struck out four, allowing three hits and no walks.

Chicago's blowout finally pulls them ahead of the Marines for total runs scored in the series. Entering Game 4, Chicago had actually been outscored 20-13 in the series, despite a 2-1 overall lead.

* * *

Tomorrow:
Battle of Champions: Game 5
White Sox lead series, 3-1

Chicago White Sox (Jose Contreras, 0-1, 14.73 ERA in series)
@
Chiba Lotte Marines (Shunsuke Watanabe, 1-0, 1.13)

* * *

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 | White Sox 12, Marines 4 | Box | White Sox lead series, 3-1
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,  Game 1

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