Pierzynski had less of a defense for his gaffe, taking off with Crede at bat and one out in the seventh. He thought he had picked up the sign for the hit-and-run. But a half hour after the game, and more than an hour after the botched play, he still wasn't sure."I thought I saw the hit-and-run," Pierzynski said, "so I took off. I missed a sign, I guess. I don't know. I asked Rock [first base coach Tim Raines] and he wasn't sure either. "I guess I missed it. We move on." Guillen put it best: "He only got one [stolen base] try all year. I think he was confused. I think he must have missed the sign. I think he was just running on his own." The hardest cynics might grasp that episode as a pretty condemning bit of confusion at a critical juncture of a postseason game, when the runner represents the tying run in a late inning. That is the sort of breakdown teams have all the time. They make them and, in the words of Pierzynski, "move on." But this Championship Series will not be so forgiving of such mistakes, because these two teams will play them breathing down each others' necks. It is the old neighborhood staring contest played on a grander scale. You draw on all your focus and concentration to stay in it. Drop your guard or your eyelids, and you're down against an opponent that will not let you get up. Scioscia was delighted with the way his weary troops zoned in. "We were fortunate to hold on," he said. "That's the luck of the draw. You have to execute out there. We were fortunate we were able to. " His counterpart was comforted by the knowledge his guys can do a lot better. "If I'm angry, I'll let you guys know," said Guillen, never timid about an occasional vent. "They executed better, they got to hit, bunt, put it down, they've got to play us and not execute the way they did."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.