Chicago seeks elusive home playoff win

Sox seek elusive home playoff win

CHICAGO -- The year was 1959.

Dwight D. Eisenhower was President of the United States. "Ben-Hur" won the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture, and the White Sox were in the World Series for the first time since 1919.

Oh, yeah. Eddie Einhorn, the vice chairman of the ownership group running the White Sox for the past 25 years, was in law school at Northwestern University and working as a vendor at Comiskey Park. This particular postseason series began on Oct. 1, with the White Sox cruising to an 11-0 victory over the Dodgers in Chicago.

Early Winn picked up the win, throwing seven scoreless innings, with Ted Kluszewski knocking out two home runs and driving in five. The South Siders appeared well on their way to the franchise's first World Series crown in 42 years.

Not only did the White Sox fall short during that series, but they also have not won a postseason round of action since. In fact, they have not won a postseason series since the 1917 World Series -- a 4-2 victory over the New York Giants.

And to almost make matters worse, the White Sox have not captured a home win in the playoffs since Wynn shut down the Dodgers. Baltimore beat the White Sox twice at home in 1983, including Britt Burns' memorable 150-pitch, 10-inning effort during a series-deciding 3-0 loss in Game 4. The Blue Jays claimed three victories in Chicago in 1993, with two wins going to Dave Stewart, and Seattle won twice at U.S. Cellular Field in 2000.

This history of home playoff woe seemingly makes Tuesday's opener against Boston a very important game to claim.

"Yeah, Game 1 is important," said White Sox center fielder Aaron Rowand of the playoff opener. "[Boston] is going to be playing in front of our own crowd, and to get one game up on the them and get off on the right foot will be key."

"It's huge," added White Sox third baseman Joe Crede of winning Game 1. "You always want to get that first one and get momentum on your side early and carry that throughout the series."

From the start of 2005, the White Sox have followed a philosophy of simply trying to win each series on the schedule. That theory played out pretty well in reality, with the White Sox finishing with a 31-16-4 series record this season.

The White Sox approach remains unchanged in the postseason, even with the defending World Series champion on the docket. Winning a series always becomes easier once the first game is out of the way, and it should help the South Siders head into Boston with confidence for the third game and possibly a fourth.

Winning one of the first two would seem to be even more essential for Chicago with the Red Sox 54-27 record at Fenway Park sitting as the best in all of baseball. Then again, the White Sox road ledger of 52-29 also is unparalleled.

Even Jose Contreras, the White Sox Game 1 starter, expressed the importance of taking the series opener when saying it would be a "huge victory" at a Monday press conference.

A huge victory, because the White Sox would knock one game off the 11 they need to win the World Series. It's not so much a necessity to address bad memories of home playoff games from the past.

"That has nothing to do with me, 1959. But we don't want to go down," said Mark Buehrle, who starts Game 2 for the White Sox. "We'd like to take both of them here before we go to Boston, but we just plan on going out there like we have all season."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.