Nobody ever said it would be easy

Nobody ever said it would be easy

CHICAGO -- And that, White Sox fans, was a loss. That is what happens when the other team gets more runs. You haven't seen one in a while -- to be exact, 14 calendar days and eight game days -- so you might not remember what it looks like.

But that is all it was. A loss -- 3-2 to the Angels in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series -- not the opening line of an epilogue.

The White Sox were reminded that winning the AL pennant will not be easy and it certainly won't be a sweeping success -- both of which the AL Division Series that got them here were.

But the Angels are everything the Red Sox are not. It takes more to beat them than keeping the bases clear in front of two big sluggers.

"It was no surprise that they came out the way they did," said third baseman Joe Crede. "They are a great team. There was no question whether they would be up for this game."

The Angels were supposed to be beat, playing their third game in three different time zones in 48 hours. Instead, the White Sox got beat.

Well, they got defeated. This certainly wasn't a beating, but the first notes of a fetching October melody.

Load up the refrigerator. Check the batteries in the remote. Fluff the sofa pillows.

It is going to be six more nights of this, pure baseball played tight and tense. When the inches bunts roll are more important than the feet big knocks fly.

"Both teams have shown this is the type of game they've played all year," said Paul Konerko, the Chicago first baseman. "It wasn't surprising.

"They won the game, but I didn't think ... look at the hit columns, it was pretty close [seven each]. They didn't blow us out. Didn't totally overwhelm us. It wasn't a case of us playing flat and them playing great. I thought we were pretty evenly matched."

When you play your reflection, you have to watch your back. The slightest slip can make the difference. You need to minimize physical errors and brain cramps because, although both of these teams can hit loud, neither wants to depend on it.

So White Sox fans find encouragement in the fact their boys made mistakes as if they hadn't played a game in three days -- oh, right; they haven't -- and still lost a close decision, the 27th out coming with the tying run on base.

"We needed a couple days off," said manager Ozzie Guillen, not regretting the time off since the clincher over Boston on Friday. "I cannot make an excuse that the days off killed us. Hopefully, we execute well and get better, but no, I think we needed the days off."

"If you're going to lose a game," said Konerko, "sometimes it's almost better to have a game that is not our best, when we didn't do some things we should have. That's better than going out and playing a great game all the way, and lose a heartbreaker."

This certainly wasn't a great game for the White Sox. There were missed signs, missed pitches, missed opportunities. Only once in the last seven innings were they retired in order.

Konerko, Chicago's biggest thumper (40 homers) and habitual savior, was right in the middle of the squandering. He finished off an 0-for-4 night by flying out in the eighth with two men on and two outs.

"I thought our approach was fine," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "We hit a lot of balls hard, and we had some chances, just couldn't get the guys in. We just didn't get the big hit, even though we had the right guy up a couple of times."

Another of those guys and another of those times was Jermaine Dye in the third, which he ended with two men on by lifting a foul down the line caught at the railing by Darin Erstad.

Dye's next act was quite more egregious. With the Sox already trailing by the eventual final score, he led off the sixth by trying to bunt his way on. Not exactly standard from a No. 3 hitter with 31 homers.

Worse, Dye's little popup back to the mound came on Paul Byrd's first pitch of the inning, setting up a five-pitch inning for the veteran right-hander at a time he may have been prone to being waited out into the end of his rope.

"That's the way we play. We're aggressive," said Konerko, figuring the attempt had Guillen's seal of approval. "Ozzie doesn't fault that. It's an aggressive mistake, which you can make when you play the game to win.

"You have to try to take it to them. No one had a problem with that. Against those guys, you've got to make things happen."

They will go back to try that Wednesday night, hoping to send a 1-1 series West for the three weekend games.

"We need to go out and play well," Pierzynski said. "Better than we did [Tuesday] night. We'll go out, have fun with it and see what happens."

Good advice for you guys with the remotes, too. Put it down, kick your legs up, and see what next happens in the White House.

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